Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Movies I didn't watch

Yes, I realize I've posted nothing the entire month of October. I don't have an excuse, really, other than I've been busy eating Little Debbie Fall Cakes and Palmer chocolate eyeballs, and watching television programs that I really don't have time for.

Inexplicably, my TV plays the sounds and images of professional sports, which I do not condone. 

Often, my TV seems to play programs I would never choose for myself. The only rational explanation for these mysterious events is that my television is haunted, and not in a good way.

In between moments of spiritual possession, my television played the following films and shows, and I didn't finish watching them:

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Lately, I'm watching a lot more Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood than I care to admit. In case you're wondering, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a TV show for children where the lead character, a young tiger, learns a valuable lesson, which is something that I frown upon. No one, and I mean no one, is going to teach me a valuable lesson.

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

More often than not, I'm forced to watch something called Beachfront Bargain Hunt. I don't really care much for the beach, I hate having sand stuck to me, I often overpay for things, and I dislike most people. I certainly do not want to watch beach enthusiasts haggle for real estate. 


TCM's Monster Of The Month is Dracula, so they've been playing vampire movies every Sunday in October. As I was watching Dracula for the billionth time, a strange sound compelled me to go to the basement.

No, not that sound. The sound of the dryer's buzzer, signaling that my laundry was done. When I returned, the film was over because of course it was, my life is now a Daniel Tiger-filled nightmare, and I have very little control over my own circumstances.

Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula

I wish I had a good reason for not finishing this film, but I don't really, other than I've seen it before, it wasn't very good, and it wasn't nearly as awful as Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, which I reviewed here:


Dracula's Daughter

Immediately following several moments of comic relief, Dracula's corpse is burned with salt amidst a foggy atmosphere. Fully cloaked from head to toe, and false eyelashed within an inch of her life, Dracula's Daughter reprises the iconic line, 'I never drink...wine.'  After receiving some psychiatric help, Dracula's Daughter offers her female victim a sandwich, then asks her to remover her blouse. Featuring distracting music and distracting daylight, Dracula's Daughter lacks the oppressive gloom of the original Dracula, but it certainly has its moments, and lots of subtext.


Incredibly stylish, slow-moving, lurid, ridiculous, and amazing, Suspiria features elegant satin dresses, high heels, and extravagant hairstyles amidst impossible, surreal sets, filmed in deeply saturated Technicolor in cool aquamarines, sapphire blues, glittering metallic gold, and deep, blood red.

What's happening, what is everyone talking about? Unknown, but it doesn't matter, since the soundtrack howls and gasps as women are murdered by hairy armed attackers. Who wouldn't love that? Unfortunately, my son-in-law didn't, and he politely asked me if we could stop watching Suspiria just before it gets totally freaky.

No, I can't believe it, either.

There is one last thing I'd like to complain about before October is over. I recently purchased a bag of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Miniatures, which on paper sounds like the most absolutely perfect thing ever. No longer will one have to be plagued by Mr. Goodbars. It's all Special Dark bars.

Sadly, this is a bag filled with lies and despair. If you thought you were going to escape Mr. Goodbars, you have another think coming. Just as in the Classic Miniatures bag, the number one ingredient in the Special Dark bag are Special Dark Mr. Goodbars, which are only marginally better than regular old ordinary hideous Mr. Goodbars, so I'm pretty furious about that, but I ate them anyway out of fury and spite. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stealing Charlie Chaplin

I had the following conversation with Mrs. Deathrage about this documentary:

Me: I fell asleep watching this documentary last night, and I'd like to finish it. It's about that one time someone stole the corpse of Charlie Chaplin and held it for ransom.
Mrs. Deathrage, unblinking, daring me to scoff at her absurdity: That doesn't sound very interesting.

Utilizing interviews of various vintages, news footage from the period, and brief clips from his films, Stealing Charlie Chaplin examines the ghoulish two month period following Chaplin's death where inept bodysnatchers unearthed his simple wooden coffin from its grave in Switzerland and extorted his widow. 

The documentary stretches for time by recounting Chaplin's career; after being placed into a destitute home as a child and the deaths of his parents, Chaplin busked and pantomimed, being discovered by Keystone and becoming one's the world's greatest filmmakers. As his career waned, he was accused of sympathizing with communists and was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and was involved in a paternity suit orchestrated by the FBI. President Hoover and Senator McCarthy banned him from America, and revoked his visa. 

One rainy night nine weeks after his death, Chaplin's grave was disturbed, and his coffin stolen. Neo-Nazis were initially thought to be the ones to blame, stealing his corpse in response to his film The Great Dictator.

The documentary goes at length discussing the minutia of the ploy to capture the criminals while paying the ransom, where a police officer would drive Chaplin's Rolls disguised as a chauffeur wearing a Swiss Air Uniform.

Overlong and slow-moving, Stealing Charlie Chaplin could easily have been condensed to a short, but it's still a lurid, fascinating subject, no matter what Mrs. Deathrage thinks.

Don't tell her I said that. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Blackwell Ghost

A self-deprecating filmmaker decides to abandon zombie films for ghost hunting, and finds he's terrified of fairly standard haunted house tropes in this documentary-style horror film. After viewing a couple of not-especially compelling ghost videos on Youtube, the filmmaker flies a plane to Pennsylvania, where he interviews a homeowner who captured footage of a supposed full-body apparition meandering through his dining room. As luck would have it, the home has a dank basement with a "well" covered by a heavy iron lid with the word "sewer" on it, where a legend says that a crazy woman dismembered children and tossed their remains within it. 

The filmmaker and his wife take up the owner's completely-not-creepy offer to spend three nights alone in the house, and they set up apps, cameras, and a trigger object and wait for results. During the night, the couple awakens to find the basement door mysteriously open, but of all the haunted places in the house, they neglected to place a camera on the possible source of the phenomena. Newbie mistake, or plot device? 

The next evening, they awaken in the night to a house filled with smoke, as the oven and all the stovetop burners were on. Not sure if that would cause smoke, though. I guess that would depend of the cleanliness of the homeowner's oven or the special effects department. The filmmaker does some research, and finds a newspaper article backing up claims of murder. Because he felt like getting suffocated by sewer gases, the filmmaker opens the well, because why not. Suddenly, all the equipments' batteries are drained, the lights go out (although one lone continuity-defying night vision light remains on), and the haunting hits a fever pitch. 

The Blackwell Ghost consists of interviews, selfies, emails, cellphone usage, computing, flight footage, muffled onboard microphone usage, shaky cam, one seemingly annoyed wife, and very little ghost footage. Brief at less than an hour, it's mostly irritating when we're forced to watch cellphone footage, but has a compelling quality about it when the film gets down to the actual ghost hunt. It also raises a couple of observations. One, no matter the quality of 'evidence', there will still be disbelievers, particularly if you already have a career as an effects-heavy filmmaker, whether it's in ghost hunting, climate change, science, politics, or what have you. And two, what noises in someone's house can be attributed to spectral phenomena, and what can be attributed to faulty wiring, the expansion and contraction of old wood, absent-mindedness, overactive imaginations, or the effects of gravity on clutter? When the filmmaker is conducting his walk-through of the house, the owner describes the alleged spirit climbing the stairs and the accompanying creaky sound. The wife shrugs this off, saying houses often make noise, which is true.

After viewing The Blackwell Ghost, I decided to prepare dinner. I thought to myself, "Odd noises don't happen where I live. Noises have a reasonable explanation. Usually, it's because something expensive needs to be repaired."

At that exact moment, an unexplained noise occurred, as if something moderately heavy fell somewhere in the depths of my abode. My dog, sitting in his usual place, dangerously underfoot as I cook, looked in the direction of the noise, and then looked up at me with an expression of wonderment. I said, "Yeah, buddy. I heard that, too."

After an investigation into the source of the sound, as if we were Scooby Too and Shaggy, I have no idea what it was, or what caused it. This does not mean my home is haunted, but it does seem to contain some amount of gravity.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Chef And My Fridge

Celebrities become embarrassed by the contents of their refrigerators while chefs attempt to create a dish from their leftovers in this television cooking show.

I'm really having a difficult time wrapping my head around the premise of this program. From what I gather, some hapless studio interns burgle a celebrity home, kidnap the celebrity's refrigerator and transport it to the studio, and plop it in the center of a stage. Afterward, completely different, chatty, chummy, overly hair-doo-ed celebrities critique the contents, and then chefs have 15 minutes to cobble together a dish from the kimchee, plum jam, and squid tentacles found within it. I'm honestly hard-pressed to think of a scenario more horrifying.

I'm not 100% sure what's happening in this clip, but if it involves chunks of squid and beets, I'll pass. I try to avoid eating beets or anything that can open its own jar of dipping sauce. 

Anyway, if someone had the bravery to hijack my fridge today, they'd be very disappointed. Its contents consist of several half-jars of various pasta sauces with dates they were opened magic-markered on the labels, an ironically-named crisper full of celery so antiquated it has liquified, a bowl of pea soup with a bit of foil loosely covering its top because I couldn't be bothered to locate the appropriate lid, and my life-blood, a carafe of cold brew coffee, which I'm always extremely concerned about. If I'm not drinking cold brew coffee I'm planning when my next cold brew will happen, because if I run out of cold brew coffee, I'll destroy your world by raining fire and brimstone upon you. No offense. There's one rule of thumb in the Deathrage penthouse, and it's "Keep your thumbs off my cold brew, and I won't be forced to break your thumbs".

This glass is much, much too small, but doesn't it look refreshing?

That's more like it. 
It will hold either 20 ounces of beer or coffee, so you should probably buy at least two.
$1.99 at Ikea.
Fill 'er up.

Don't get me wrong, I cook. I cook a lot, as one could surmise by the pea soup (and in spite of the melting celery), which I made from dry peas from scratch in my Instant Pot. Please don't get me started on my Instant Pot, which I use about 3 to 4 times a week. You'll be recounted with a lengthy endorsement of its many attributes, as the poor woman purchasing one behind me at the Target a few weeks ago can attest to, where I told her every dish I made in it that month and made her go online and purchase a second insert whether she wanted one or not, because a second insert can be invaluable when entertaining, because while one insert is being used for rice or beans or whatnot, a second insert can be used to prepare a main, a side dish, or whatever, and you wouldn't have to wash the one lonely Instant Pot insert between courses like a sucker.

Sure, I get it. The Instant Pot pretty much just makes soups, stews, soup-like stews, or stew-like soups. And hard-boiled eggs. It makes perfect hard-boiled eggs in a fraction of the time. But that's not really important right now.

Chef And My Fridge is one of those inexplicable talk/variety/cooking shows where people talk and cook while absurd graphics flash on the screen, and the celebrities enthusiastically lick the bowl the squid tentacles are served in, and it's one of those kinds of shows perfect to watch while sitting in your dentist's office while your Instant Pot is keeping the red curry chickpea stew you prepared at home warm for up to 10 hours.

Oops, someone placed an infomercial for the Instant Pot here instead of a trailer for Chef And My Fridge, which I can't seem to find anyway. I am not being paid to hawk Instant Pots, but I'll take some Instant Pot cash if there is some random Instant Pot cash available. Just send it to my PayPal.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Skin Too Few: The Days Of Nick Drake

I accidentally tried to hurry the arrival of autumn. A post describing this documentary appeared in my Facebook feed, thanks to the fine folks over at Dangerous Minds, and although the weather was a little too warm and sunny, I felt the compulsion to watch this short documentary. 

Following his career until his untimely death, A Skin Too Few interviews his surviving family and the musicians and producers who worked with him. Unfortunately, there is no footage of Drake performing, and his career only lasted a scant seven years, which accounts for the documentary's short length.

Oh crap, here's a live version by Green Gartside of Scritti Politti.

And don't forget that commercial that brought his music to a much wider audience.

Don't be fooled by its simple, impossibly delicate, autumnal beauty, Drake's music has the power to cause people to wear cable-knit sweaters and tweed overcoats, divert polar weather systems, turn trees from lush green to vibrant red and gold, ripen fields of amber candy corn, and carve jack o'lanterns.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Houston, We Have A Problem

The Yugoslavian space program began in the 1920s. Building a vast underground facility known as Object 505, the Yugoslavians built and tested a 3-stage rocket, which crashed into the Adriatic Sea. The cost of exploring outer space could potentially bankrupt Yugoslavia, so the country offered their technology to the US, whose space program was struggling. After the sale, the Yugoslav economy is buoyed to such an extent that there are parades, girls in bikinis, and dogs riding pool floats. Unfortunately, the tech doesn't work, so the US wants a refund. Various assassination attempts, faked deaths, and other conspiracies occurs, culminating in the rise of the infamous automobile The Yugo and the ultimate breakup of the country.

Exploring the rubble of the abandoned Object 505 site, the massive, crumbling water tanks the Yugoslavians used to train astronauts for their journey to the weightlessness of outer space, and utilizing vintage film footage, a pig test pilot, and clever digital manipulation to create an atmosphere of truthiness, Houston, We Have A Problem explores a scenario of a past where a country was destabilized and exploited, but maybe sort-of not necessarily for its burgeoning space technology.

Monday, July 31, 2017

How To Stage A Coup

I'm going to try to be honest for a minute, which is something I try to avoid. I'm tired. I've been sitting here blinking at this review, and I've got nothin'. I'm sleep deprived, physically exhausted, and that isn't going to change for the next several days. The news fills me with existential dread. I'm bored, but that doesn't mean I want anything exciting to happen, although I was out late last night at a rock show. I bought a bag of Fritos yesterday, and a jar of cookie dough meant to be eaten raw from the container with a spoon, and I'm not sure why I did it. My thoughts are disjointed from fatigue, and I seem to have run out of words. I think I really just need a nap.

So I guess I'll just continue in my fashion of late of alluding to the current state of the world through the review without really saying anything substantial, and let that be it. I want to get this one out of the drafts before the end of the month. Pardon me if I trail off.

The history of autocracy is examined in this fascinating, informative, and chilling documentary program. Examining the mechanisms that cause a society to fall into fascism and the history of the societies that have succumbed to it, How To Stage A Coup looks at autocratic leaders through history and the charisma, propaganda, self-promotion, and mythology they utilize to take control of their populace. More often than not, the people found the dictator to be more palatable than chaos. Fear caused the people to run into the arms of the fascist. Persuasion, and the facade of legitimacy, cemented the autocrat in place. Something something something, dictator.

#1 Rule: Never march on Moscow. That's pretty good advice, I think.

I can't seem to find a trailer.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Packed In A Trunk

An artist is committed to an asylum in 1924, her paintings locked away in trunks in an attic. Decades later, the artist's great-niece tries to right a wrong by bringing her work back to Provincetown.

Examining the mystery of what happened to a forgotten, influential artist, Packed In A Trunk often dips into overt sentimentality, but the questions surrounding her aunt's disappearance are quite compelling. After visiting her family's ancestral home, the asylum where her aunt was committed, and the graveyard she's buried in, her niece gathers oil pastel works and carved woodblocks for a showing in a gallery in Provincetown that was once featured in one of her aunt's paintings. The discovery of a woodcut painting makes the art world reconsider the original invention of the medium. Packed In A Trunk is an interesting look at an imprisoned artist whose influence is now finally being reevaluated.

ICYMI, I said a lot of stuff about the horror film The Disappointments Room over at Cultured Vultures.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Florence Foster Jenkins

Obviously, someone who has reviewed so many terrible movies is going to have a soft spot for outsider music.

Wait a second, is that obvious? Do the two go hand in hand? Now I'm unsure.

Nevertheless, it's true. I love the music some might say is unlistenable, and I love it with the same gusto that I love terrible films. Someone driven by an unknown force is compelled to create art, regardless of any training, regardless of the proper tools, and regardless of the quality of the finished product. What's not to love about that?

Frank Zappa once said The Shaggs were 'better than the Beatles, even today', and are you going to argue with him?

I once saw Jandek perform live. In fact, I'm wearing a Jandek shirt right now.
(photo not available)

On to the film. Socialite and patron of the arts Florence Foster Jenkins precariously swings down from the alcoves of a theatre, portraying the Angel Of Inspiration. Later, she averts a potato salad crisis at one of her functions. Overly fond of sandwiches, abhorring pointed objects, and collecting chairs in which notable people have reportedly died in, (For heaven's sake, don't try to sit in one), Madam Foster Jenkins is a complex, noble, and pitiable creature, one who is courageous, sympathetic, and profoundly untalented. Serving her famous potato salad from her bathtub and carrying around a mysterious briefcase, she is encouraged and protected, usually for continued patronage, as she ascends to infamy at a sold out show at Carnegie Hall.

Bittersweet and funny, the film Florence Foster Jenkins examines the life of the tone-deaf opera singer. Sadness lurks about, with hints of war, death, illness, and fear, but these specters don't hang around long. Knowing looks and glances abound, as the supporting characters desperately try to insulate Jenkins from a world that doesn't understand her genius at interpretation.

Florence Foster Jenkins is at turns both broadly and slyly comedic. Meryl Streep nearly submerges completely in her role. Oscar occasionally glints from behind her performance, which is understandable. Meryl seems to relish the part, and Hugh Grant cuts a mean jitterbug. I was particularly moved by a standout scene near the end of the film as Streep drags one of the New York Posts from the garbage placed there by her doting quasi-husband Grant, as the orchestration swells, the crane pivots, and Streep staggers slightly as she reads the review of her performance.

ICYMI, I said some stuff about the horror film The Disappointments Room at Cultured Vultures. You should check it out.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Release The Hounds

Contestants attempt to finish tepidly gory challenges at an allegedly haunted country estate surrounded by fencing and razor wire, and after finishing their obstacles and collecting the cash, get chased by dogs, which catch them and tear them apart.

The contestants must climb a fence to enter the estate, find a key within a haunted attraction style physical challenge, fill their backpack with cash, then escape by climbing over another fence while being chased by dogs.

I only watched one episode. Here's what transpired:

First obstacle: After searching the woods, the trio finds crucified scarecrows which projectile vomit fake blood upon them.

Second obstacle: Enter a blood spattered cabin filled with skulls, raw meat, and jars filled with anatomical specimens. In a crawlspace under the house filled with bloody rags, the key is within a medical cooler for organ transplants sewn within a gooey animal heart.

Third obstacle: Read a story to a haunted doll.

Release The Hounds is an unexpectedly alarming television program. It appears the planet has descended to the depths of the Most Dangerous Game, where people are now hunted for sport on television after being conditioned to burgle.

Resembling a far less interesting Battle Royale or Running Man, Release The Hounds is transparently scripted, and has the feel of a not-especially terrifying haunted attraction, only you're unconvincingly torn apart by animals if you fail to finish.

Watching Release The Hounds caused me to yearn for the witty, pre-dystopian days of Match Game and Hollywood Squares.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return: Episode 8 "Gotta Light"

I know I'm a few weeks late on this, but oh well.

I want you all to stop what you are doing and immediately watch Twin Peaks: Episode 8 "Gotta Light?".
To be properly prepared, I'll need you to watch the following films first:

Un Chien Andalou
L'Age d'Or
The Blood Of A Poet
The Old Dark House
Citizen Kane
Meshes Of The Afternoon
8 1/2
Scorpio Rising
2001: A Space Odyssey
Plan 9 From Outer Space
The Creeping Terror
The Exterminating Angel
The Exorcist
Zero For Conduct
The 400 Blows
Night Of The Hunter
The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari
El Topo
A Zed And Two Noughts
The Last Of England
Ichi The Killer
The Wages Of Fear
Carnival Of Souls
The Innocents
Tales From The Gimli Hospital
Night Of The Living Dead
This is an incomplete list, and still may not get you up to speed. Between screenings, listen to Krzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima" and the collected works of Nine Inch Nails, and stare intently at Francis Bacon's "Figure With Meat". 

I can't really say it'll help, but it certainly couldn't hurt. 
Twin Peaks: The Return: Episode 8 "Gotta Light" is one of the most astonishing episodes of television, heck, CINEMA, I've ever seen, reminding me of the joy, confusion, and terror of seeing Eraserhead for the first time many decades ago, where I feared that exposure to that particular film could possibly have forever mutated my genes.
If you're confused, watch it again.
Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Japanese Style Originator

A panel of celebrity judges are quizzed on their knowledge of Japanese culture in this quirky, informative television program. Broken up by odd vignettes of kimono-wearing children jokingly discussing the program and strange video game-like footage; tofu preparation, candle making, the harvesting of tea leaves, the proper techniques for tempura cooking, the manners required while wearing a kimono, and the aesthetics of Japanese gardens are examined in a QVC meets The View talk show format.

What's happening here? What's going on? I don't know. What's with the odd gestures, the strange rituals, the bizarre machines, the extravagant costumes? It's quite impenetrable. I'm assuming someone is selling something, but it's all so vague.

Speaking of odd gestures, strange rituals, bizarre machines, and extravagant costumes, sports often inconvenience me. I don't understand it, and what little I seem to grasp disturbs me. I never cared for math that much, and that's what sports seems to be; people amassing in large crowds wearing absurd sports apparel representing their chosen warring city-state, drinking beer, eating nachos, and arguing about numbers. Here's an unpopular opinion: Maybe one could drink beer and eat nachos without the math, crowds, sports, and bickering? They both taste just as good sitting at home wearing a kimono.

I'm often perplexed by what passes for entertainment with people sometimes, and I'm sure the feeling is mutual. Speaking of sports, here's a clip from Calamari Wrestler.


Anyway, Japanese Style Originator is informative, and touched with a humorous sense of the uncanny.

I'm still working on my review of The Disappointments Room for Cultured Vultures, which you voted on, so you have no one to blame but yourselves. Meanwhile, here's this, where I ramble on about more odd gestures, strange rituals, bizarre machines, and extravagant costumes:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Deadly Paranormal Encounters With The Afterlife

Hauntings and urban legends are examined in this tedious Canadian paranormal travelogue. Featuring amateurish reenactments, bad effects, and less-than-compelling narration, Deadly Paranormal Encounters With The Afterlife takes a look at the legendary Screaming Tunnel of Niagara Falls, Ontario, which is haunted by a young girl who was tragically set ablaze, and the University Of Manitoba's Special Collection of photographs of the Hamilton Experiments, where the spiritualist Thomas Glendenning Hamilton took some infamous photos of ectoplasm.

Now I know what you're going to say, and you're going to say 'Stabford, that photo appears to be of a woman with tissue paper in her mouth, and someone pasted newspaper cut-outs of faces on it, and it isn't spectral ectoplasm at all'. Well, you're a buzz-kill, and don't ruin this for me. I think that it's very, very convincing.

Speaking of buzz-kill, Deadly Paranormal Encounters With The Afterlife contains almost no deadly encounters whatsoever, and hardly any afterlife, although there is some extremely dramatic alphabetization utilizing a Ouija board. 

Unfortunately, I can't find a trailer for Deadly Paranormal Encounters With The Afterlife. Instead, here's a video by Bjork, and it's about as close to ectoplasm as we're going to get. 

ICYMI, I recently went on a tear about the film Beyond The Gates over at Cultured Vultures, which also doesn't have any ectoplasm in it, but should.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Knowledge Of The Forever Time: The Black Knight Satellite

Writer's block is, well, something. I would be able to describe it better, but unfortunately, I'm suffering from writer's block.

I'm about 17 incomplete reviews deep now, including Beyond The Gates, which I went through the whole rigamarole of creating a Twitter poll for. I'm probably going to half to scrap half of it. It's nothing to worry about, I'm sure.

Speaking of worry, I'm besieged by overwhelming dread. I'm not one to prescribe to conspiracy theories, but I'm convinced pale grey vapors of apprehension and unease swirl about me, and someone's responsible. I don't think this second giant cup of iced soy espresso has anything to do with it, and I'm offended you've even suggested it. Get off my back about it. While you're up, get me another espresso.

I've taken some logical steps to combat the angst. I've cut lengthy stems of just-past bloomed sage from my potager garden, and placed them around the room, thoroughly surrounding myself in them as a protective barrier. The herbs' aromatic qualities are sure to dispel the vapors. I've lit several sticks of lotus-scented incense. The billowing smoke will mingle with the vapors, causing them to dissipate in a pleasing aroma. A little music playing softly in the background helps to drown out the howling shriek of anxiety.

Once I find out who has placed this curse upon me will really get a stern talking to.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, during dinner last night I had the misfortune of playing the video The Knowledge Of The Forever Time: The Black Knight Satellite. I really just wanted something absurd playing in the background, trying not to pay much attention to it as I caught myself up on the stupefying, soul-crushing news of the day. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to watch a paranormal conspiracy documentary while catching up on current events and ravenously scarfing down a vegetarian turkey-esque cutlet, but I'm an expert at bad decisions.

The Knowledge Of The Forever Time: The Black Knight Satellite explains the theory that a 13,000-year old extraterrestrial satellite orbits the Earth which was supposedly first discovered by Nicola Tesla in 1899. Nope, I'd never heard of this, either.

Hopping around from climate change, Medieval paintings, spirituality, portentous narration, and dodgy science, The Forever Time shrieks and howls through some eyebrow-raising, startling crackpot theories in a little over an hour. Between CNN, Twitter, and this documentary, my mouth fell open so many times I could barely chew.

I can't really recommend The Knowledge Of The Forever Time, (BTW, this is episode 6!), but I wouldn't stop you from watching it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Sallie House

It's come to my attention that I've only posted once this month. Unfortunately, I've been busy, which means the blog gets ignored. My review of Halloweed was well received over at Cultured Vultures, and writing and promoting that was time consuming, and by 'well-received' I mean about a dozen people read it and no one flung rotting fruit at me.

I also wrote several book reviews over at WinkBooks.net, where I reviewed Bedtime For Batman, A Beginner's Guide To Immortality, and The League Of Regrettable Superheroes. You should check them out.

Check WinkBooks later, when they'll publish my reviews of the books Ghosts, Andy And Lucy Neanderthal, and Head Lopper. I actually almost sort of make an attempt at nearly serious writing.

Anyway, enough self-promotion.

Originally featured on the 1990s television shows Sightings and Unsolved Mysteries, The Sallie House investigates the infamous haunting.

Artist rendering of the alleged spirit, which seems fine as far as nightmare fuel goes.

Featuring reenactments, interviews, and video footage of varying quality, bricks are supposedly thrown, someone is allegedly knocked out of their shoes, teddy bears are inexplicably placed in a circle by an unseen force, roses are paranormally burnt, candles are found upside down, someone has unexplained pinky finger sensations, and a Great Dane is psychic. The owners of the home who first claimed to have experienced the haunting is interviewed, and clips from Sightings where the husband is allegedly attacked by Sallie, resulting in long, needle-like scratches on his torso, is shown.

I would like to recommend The Sallie House purely for the Great Dane, but since it only makes a brief cameo appearance, I can't.

I couldn't find a trailer for the Sallie House documentary, but I found this short clip of nothing particularly interesting happening in the basement of the Sallie House, and it's promoted by someone suggesting people visit Atcheson, Kansas. I think it's brilliant, because I watched 1 minute and 30 seconds of nothing happening, and it was more entertaining than a lot of the movies I've watched lately.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Westall '66: A Suburban UFO Mystery

Australian schoolchildren encounter a UFO in this compelling paranormal documentary. Featuring charcoal-sketch animations of screaming children fleeing from flying saucers, interviews with now-grown alumni of the school, and newspaper accounts revealing the secrecy at the time, Westall '66 is intriguing and gripping.

Very nearly verging on the credible, the documentary recounts the tale of how 200 children and teachers in two schools witnessed an unidentified flying object landing in a field in an Australian town in April, 1966. After a brief front page article in the local newspaper, the event seemed to have been hushed up, as supposed news footage and cameras disappear, information is allegedly erased from government records, and the community is apparently silenced through veiled threats. The film culminates in a reunion of the alumni. Corroboration of the event from nearly the whole town gives the film an air of authenticity. I'm uncertain what the town witnessed, but they deeply believe they saw something, and it's a fascinating mystery.

I recently held a Twitter poll asking the Twitterverse what film I should review next. Halloweed was the big winner. Check out my review here:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Curse Of The Man Who Sees UFOs

The tale of the man who devotes his life to videotaping sightings of UFOs is examined in this quirky paranormal documentary. A story of tragedy and misfortune set in the odd underbelly of Monterey, California, Curse Of The Man Who Sees UFOs tells the story of affable, eccentric, and slightly exhausting musician and film maker Christo Roppolo, who inexplicably manages to capture images of and allegedly communicates with unidentified flying objects. A highlight of the film occurs as Roppolo recounts the tale of a man who set himself on fire at a golf course restroom, and how chasing a flying red orb caused Roppolo to crap behind a tree in said golf course. Less about flying saucers and more about the unfortunate artist haunted by them, Curse Of The Man Who Sees UFOs still entertains and fascinates.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

A brand new season of the film critique program for the people who like other people talking during movies, featuring bad special effects, bad sets, and bad puppetry, and I haven't even started talking about the film yet. The film is terrible, which is exactly what fans of the show would expect. There is a Luxembourg joke, a spleen joke, a mother joke, a Murray Head joke, and a joke about foley artistry and exposition.

There's also a Blazing Saddles reference, various instances of mockery, a few callbacks, other science facts, and yes, you can see the strings. A welcome return, although to be honest, I only watched the first episode. I don't have time for television programs. It takes time away from constantly refreshing my Twitter feed.

For those who missed it, I held a Twitter poll to see which terrible horror film I'll review next over at Cultured Vultures. It was a narrow victory, but the winner was Halloweed, although I use the term 'winner' very loosely. Don't fret, I'll hold another poll very soon because it was an awful lot of fun, but what I consider fun is very different from what others would consider fun. In case you're wondering, my twitter handle is SDeathrage@twitter.com. I'm the one wearing the mask.

Speaking of Cultured Vultures, I recently reviewed the Argentinian horror film Ataud Blanco. You should check it out. I didn't have very many nice things to say about it.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Lovers & The Despot

The unbelievable true story of how Kim Jong-Il kidnapped two filmmakers to create a North Korean Hollywood is told in this fascinating documentary. Utilizing interviews, vintage film clips, and recreations, the sinister scheme unfolds. Imprisoned for 5 years, the husband and wife make 17 films in 2 and a half years, enduring constant surveillance, brainwashing, and 'emotional dictatorship'. As they worked for Kim Jong-Il, rumors swirled around their disappearance. After being accused of defecting to the North, clandestine audio tapes make it to the West, simultaneously providing proof of their ordeal and the very first audio recordings of Kim Kong-Il's voice. Ending in a dramatic run for the US Embassy, The Lovers & The Despot is a gripping documentary.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Double Down

A mercenary attempts to shut down the Las Vegas strip for some reason in this incomprehensibly bad espionage film written, directed, produced, starring, and catered by Neil Breen.

While wearing rubber gloves, a decorated military man turned mercenary for hire uses his multiple cell phones and laptops in the desert because of all the wi-fi. After some stock NASA footage and the unexplained appearance of random human bones by the side of the highway, he's ordered by an unnamed foreign government to shut down the Vegas strip. I'm not sure why. After a smidge of voiceover narration which comprises about 95% of the film, the mercenary says he only kills white collar criminals because I assume killing blue collar criminals would be unethical. Reflecting on his career, he says 'he's just a simple person'. Then he eats tuna out of the can while driving erratically and whining about being lonely.

After some stock nature footage, the mercenary says 'everything I need is always with me: a satellite dish, 5 laptops, 6 cellphones, and bioterror'. Warning against 'very dangerous wars', which are probably the very worst kind of wars, he claims he invented a force shield that causes death, and even though there's footage of a disposable extra unconvincingly dying from it I'm still not entirely sure what that means. He stumbles upon an unexpectedly writhing, inexplicably zipped sleeping bag which might or might not contain the ghost of his dead childhood girlfriend. Then there's the Breen trademark closeups of shoes.

18 minutes into the film we finally get some dialogue during an awkwardly nude poolside wedding proposal and assassination resulting in a dual nude deadman float. It's fine.

Waking next to his car, he finds someone has scrawled the phrase 'Help me' in blood. Since his car is filled with empty tuna cans, I'm assuming this is a cry for help for his addiction to tuna. It's unclear. The mercenary then says, 'I've continuously changed my identity', but he ironically rarely changes his tank top. Suddenly, he changes his tank top, then he breaks the 180-degree rule in an odd discussion about a terrorist. Breaking up the voiceover monotony, various clips of Vegas-style debauchery are shown, which is the most interesting part of the film. It's very brief. Then it's back to the tank top.

While climbing a steep desert hill which probably should have called for the use of a stunt double, the mercenary trips over a branch. He encounters a hermit who unconvincingly cracks his head open on a rock, which results in a continuity-defying bloody gash. It appears in one scene, disappears in the next, and reappears again, sort of like the tank top. Bald eagles and pigeons make cameos, and wind roars in the mic.

Suddenly, the mercenary encounters the ghost of his mother and father. They walk cautiously in the banks of a lake as the sound cuts out.

Suddenly, the mercenary is having an inexplicable dinner like a normal person with some never-before-seen and unexplained characters. He asks a little girl for a some water although his glass is partially full, and she brings back the glass with the exact same amount of liquid in it. Then there are clips of the White House, various cacti, landing jets, and footage of the mercenary sleeping in his car.

Suddenly, someone drops their anthrax, but it's probably just a sac of powdered sugar wrapped in duct tape, so there's no cause for alarm. Then someone unconvincingly runs their shopping cart into the mercenary's car, but instead of freaking out the mercenary unconvincingly says, 'It's OK, no damage'. Someone nearby videotaping the mercenary is unconvincingly shot in the head. Are they really nearby? Where are they? It's hard to tell.

The mercenary pays a valet $200 to borrow someone's Rolls Royce, because he needs to drive to one of those Vegas quickie-marriage chapels to pick up his next hit. He offers the newlyweds some champagne and drugged strawberries amidst sound inconsistencies and intermittent traffic noise. It's hardly creepy or suspicious at all. The bride awakens from her drugged stupor, and the mercenary convinces her that he married her. The mercenary gives the bride a quickie divorce by screaming, 'Get out, the marriage is over' at her, which is often how divorce works. He then stumbles upon an unconvincing lakeside murder/suicide, and sleeps in his car.

The mercenary finally enacts his dubious plan, which consists of walking around Vegas wiping anthrax on unsuspecting people while wearing continuity-defying gloves, which kills 'instantly on contact in 5 minutes'. Meanwhile, an unseen woman's voiceover breaks up the mercenary's voiceover monotony. After stealing a Ferrari, the mercenary picks up a guy wearing an obviously phony beard and mustache disguise.

Suddenly, I forgot I was watching a movie. Meanwhile, some 'anthrax dealers' show up and the cast ominous looks at each other for a while. Someone drops a suspiciously familiar duct-taped bag of anthrax, and everyone scatters. Then the mercenary says to the ghost of his dead girlfriend, 'Our love will never die, even in death it will go on'. In an abrupt non sequitur, the mercenary says, 'Didn't mean to disturb your lunch'. I'm not sure why. Then he attaches two satellite dishes to the back of his car, removes them again, and dumps out boxes of empty tuna cans from his trunk.

After a lengthy existential crisis which takes practically forever, the mercenary runs up a hill and does something with a ram's skull, and I'm pretty sure he gave the ram's skull a cameo in his third film. Then someone says, 'I want to welcome you to Las Vegas, there's nothing to worry about', which doesn't sound like a glowing endorsement for The Entertainment Capitol Of The World.

Suddenly, I forgot I was watching a movie again as the mercenary dumps more tuna cans from his trunk. The film ends several times for about 15 minutes, and then it finally ends and not a moment too soon.

Featuring terrible editing, terrible acting, terrible windswept sound, and a terrible script, Double Down also has awkwardly-paced dialogue, a maudlin, repetitive soundtrack, and at least one tank top in need of a wash. Sets seem to consist of the desert or the back of a BMW. Costumes consist of a tank top. Props consist of empty tuna cans. Director Neil Breen is a master of the use of stock footage, rivaling Ed Wood, so it's got that going for it. For Breen fans, don't worry, laptops were smashed. Double Down is a lol-worthy, incoherent, metaphysical mess that was probably shot in one day. Nearly all the credits are Neil Breen, except for lighting and hair and makeup, which are credited as none. Neil Breen catered the film, and it probably consisted of lots of tuna sandwiches. Double Down is enthusiastically recommended if you like stuff that sucks.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

City 40

Clandestine filmmakers break into Obersk, a contaminated Russian secret city and home to its nuclear reserves in this gripping, chilling documentary. Featuring footage of nuclear weapons tests, civilians wearing gas masks, shocking aerial footage of the burning rubble of Chernobyl immediately following the infamous accident, haunting photos of an abandoned school and amusement park, and affected civilians sweeping radioactive dust, City 40 is an eye-opening film showing the human and environmental effects of the nuclear arms race.

Oops, someone accidentally replaced the trailer of City 40 with a video of Vladmir Putin singing the Radiohead classic "Creep". Let's try that again, shall we?

Ah, here we go. That's much better.

When you get a chance, kindly stop over at Cultured Vultures and check out my review of American Poltergeist.

The Boys From Brazil

Alt-right war criminals organize to kill retirement-aged men and bring about the 4th reich in this absurd science fiction film. Featuring cloning, doberman pincers, old men biting each other, an inexplicable appearance by Steve Guttenberg, and the phrase 'The Right Hitler For The Right Future', The Boys From Brazil is a dated, ludicrous film. Seriously, who would believe a worldwide rise in Nazism in 2017?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hieronymous Bosch: Touched By The Devil

Paintings by the enigmatic Dutch artist is curated for a 500th anniversary in his hometown in this dry, academic documentary. Although featuring astonishing extreme closeups of the 500-year old artwork in HD, examining details of each bizarre creature in Bosch's iconic altarpiece, The Garden Of Earthly Delights, and the delicate restoration of a damaged paining, most of the film is spent focusing on the bureaucracy of the negotiations to loan crucial pieces of his limited extant oeuvre for an exhibition in his hometown on the 500th anniversary of the artist's death. Stay tuned to the end of the film, when the triptych's right panel is shown in all its frightening, nightmarish glory.

Fun Fact: Although 'neoclassical dark wave' band Dead Can Dance named an early e.p. "Garden Of The Arcane Delights", Bosch's artwork makes an appearance on their Aion album cover.

See, wasn't that fun?

If you have a moment to spare, check out my review of the horror film American Poltergeist at Cultured Vultures.