Archive for October, 2002

Day 28: Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, 1987 (Script)
Director: Sam Raimi
Availability: Easy (available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment)

What October would be complete without the penultimate example of modern horror? Combining scares with laughs with blood-a-plenty, Evil Dead II really pushed the limits of what horror fans came to expect. Before Peter Jackson had New Zealanders assaulting zombies with a lawnmower, Sam Raimi had Bruce Campbell semi-surgically attaching a chainsaw to his arm, in place of a severed hand that had become possessed.

Full of great camerawork and special effects, Evil Dead II is a quicker-paced, funnier take on the same story offered up in the series’ first film, but still offered up a lot of great scares in between the laughs (unlike Army of Darkness which, while still a great movie, was a pretty far cry from the “horror” element of the earlier entries in the series).

I’ve probably seen this movie more times than any other (except Dawn of the Dead), probably a dozen times alone with Ryder. It was, after all, one of our first bonding moments, watching a rented copy of Evil Dead II together from West Coast Video/Couch Potatoes. Still, it remains a staple in my collection and is a great go-to movie if I’m alone or have a group of likeminded friends over. And for those of you that have somehow avoided the gore galore, any entry in the series can be found quite easily at even the most mainstream of video rental stores.

Groovy. (You know I’d end on that note, right?)

Yearly Election Links

Next Tuesday’s Election Day. Here are some links for voters in Virginia (voters in other states can find similar information by searching for “statename board of elections” on Google):

Canidates List for US Congressional Offices

Information on other offices, based on locality

Election Information (see the “Ballot Issues” section to see read the various issues up for vote this year)

Co-inky-dinks

October 26, 2001: We had dinner with Rob and Sarah.

October 27, 2001: I went hiking in Cunningham State Park.

October 26, 2002: We had dessert with Rob and Sarah.

October 27, 2002: I went hiking in Cunningham State Park.

Weird. Does this mean it should become an annual thing?

Day 27: Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath, 1963 (aka I tre volti della paura (The Three Faces of Fear))
Director: Mario Bava
Availability: Medium (available on DVD from Image Entertainment)

Yes, another Bava film. And, no, Black Sabbath isn’t the related to Black Sunday.

This is probably my favorite of all of Bava’s films. It’s a series of three shorts, each standing well on its own, but even better as part of the whole. From my UA Journal review, here is a rundown of the three shorts:

The first of the three shorts, titled “The Telephone,” places a young, attractive girl, played by Michele Mercier, alone in her apartment as she receives late night phone threats, presumably from an escaped killer that she helped put behind bars. This story is simple, but compelling, providing some tense moments laced with interesting lesbian overtones (which were cut out of the American release in 1964, being that the trio of stories was aimed towards children).

The second story, “The Wurdulak,” stars Boris Karloff as a vampire-slaying grandfather who is bitten by the bug, so to speak. His family must deal with the fact that he has become a vampire and come to grips with the need to drive a stake through his heart. Again, the atmosphere is genuinely creepy—I frequently found myself staring at the landscape Bava created when I should have been listening to dialogue. The sets are more intricate, as are the characters, than in “The Telephone,” but both manage to relay a similar sense of uneasiness.

The final short is “The Drop of Water,” a wonderfully constructed piece about a nurse who steals a ring from a dead medium’s hand and is subsequently haunted by the medium’s ghost. This spine-chilling (quite literally) tale was clearly the inspiration for a number of movies and characters of more recent years. There’s an interesting connection with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 that one should pick up on the first watching. Out of the three tales, this one takes the cake for simple eerieness—every drop of water will make you shiver and you may never see houseflies in quite the same way.

Black Sabbath and Kwaidan would make for a great night of late-October viewing if you like your horror with some atmosphere.

Day 26: Kill, Baby… Kill!

Kill, Baby… Kill!, 1966 (aka Operazione Paura, and many other titles) [ ADD ]
Director: Mario Bava
Availability: Medium (available on a crappy DVD from VCI)

When you have a director that worked his way up through the ranks like Bava did, you have a director that truly knows the ins-and-outs of making a movie. Considering his success as a cinematographer and his early directorial success, it’s no wonder that Kill, Baby… Kill! is such a kick ass gothic horror flick.

In this one, a small town is terrorized by the spirit of a young girl that was killed there a number of years earlier. The legend has it that if you see the girl, you are her next victim. Those who are unlucky enough to set their eyes on her are eventually stripped of their will and driven to impale themselves on sharp objects. An investigator and a coroner have doubts about the legends and set out to solve the string of murders, only to find out the legends are all too true. Bava, as always, creates some stunning imagery and makes very effective use of music and simple sounds (a child’s laugh). This movie apparently was a huge inspiration for Fellini, Scorcese, and any number of other directors. It’s easy to see why.

The VCI DVD is a washed-out transfer and is full-screen, but it’s the only thing available at this point. I’m sure that it will eventually get the full treatment it deserves, but for now, the VCI disc is all we have. However, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) showed a colorful widescreen version of Kill, Baby… Kill! this weekend as part of their Friday Night Bava series that ran throughout October. Perhaps they’ll show it again.

Day 25: Dagon

Dagon, 2001 [ ADD ]
Director: Stuart Gordon
Availability: Medium (available on DVD from Lion’s Gate Films)

Stuart Gordon got a good reputation amongst horror fans after he released the 1980s classic Re-animator. Over a decade later, Gordon tackled another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, Dagon (based on one of Lovecraft’s earliest stories). In this modern take on the short story, a rich dot-commer and his girlfriend are sailing off of the Spanish coast with some work associates. Things are going well until a major storm hits and they find themselves off the coast, near a creepy, desolate town. It doesn’t take long for the group of four to get trimmed down to two, and then the fun begins as Paul tries to find his kidnapped girlfriend amongst a town full of frightening, possessed monk-like creatures.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie that really felt like it reached out and grabbed my face. Dagon did just that, and then proceeded to rip it clean off. I had the fortune of seeing this on the big screen, and while there were a few moments of humor thrown in, the majority of the film was fast-paced, very tense, and quite eerie. The end is a bit of a downer when they go for some weak CGI effects, but the rest of the film makes up for it. If you enjoy being drawn into a movie and feeling your pulse race, Dagon is the film to do it. A great flick for a rainy October night.

Side note: the posted-a-day-late entry for day 24 is now online.

Animal rasslin in my attic!

Unrelated to the rest of this post: I realize I missed yesterday for the “31 movies”—it’ll be posted there (with a time of 11:59pm) later today. Plumb forgot to do it last night. Stupid Plumb.

You may remember our bird-in-the-attic problem from earlier this year. Well, after our neighbors informed us that we had a nest in our fireplace fan, we decided it would be a good idea to have a pest control company come out and do the whole deal: clean out any excess nests the birds left behind, remove any dead animals from our attic, and seal up the entrances with wire of some sort so we don’t have to deal with this next year. Today a guy came out to give us an estimate (it’s damned expensive, but one of those expenses we, as homeowners, just have to suck up) and when he looked up in the attic he found some interesting stuff.

First, he said, some of the aluminum around the ductwork had been pecked away and the casing surrounding some of the wires was torn. A few birds had chosen to set up shop in our insulation and make a mess in the process. But more interesting than that was his revelation that, “There must have been some other animal up here that killed the birds… there are feathers everywhere.” So here I am imagining all the neighborhood wildlife getting together in my attic for a giant Royal Rumble, charging admission to see who wins the battle of the Cardinal versus the Squirrel (with his manager the Rat). Apparently, the guy didn’t actually see any caracasses up there, but said there was definitely some work to be done in the attic to get things cleaned up.

Not fun stuff, but it’s nice to know that we can avoid dead animals in our attic next year and that the birds won’t make our attic a fire hazard while trying to build themselves a nest. And we’ll actually be able to start a fire in our fireplace without worrying about starting a fire outside the house.

Day 24: Uzumaki

Uzumaki, 2000 [ ADD ]
Director: Higuchinsky
Availability: Hard (available on Region 3 DVD via Diabolik DVD)

Inhabitants of a waterfront Japenese town are slowly become obsessed with uzumaki (spirals). They seek to find spirals in every day life, to collect spirals, and eventually, as they’re driven to madness, to become spirals. How does one become a spiral, one might ask?

Put yourself in an industrial washing machine and turn it on.

This movie is every bit as bizarre as its plot. God bless the Japanese for their insane take on the horror film. Where else could you expect to find human-sized snails crawling up a skyscraper? Only in a film version of a Japanese comic book, directed by a Japanese music video director.

I risk sounding like a fourth grade book report for a book I’ve never read, but the only way to describe Uzumaki is with words like “great,” “strange,” “transcendent,” and “the ultimate kick-in-the-head.”

Pat is Dooce.

I love finding pictures that look like other people.

First, look at the only picture I have of Pat Broom (Update: this is a better picture than the one I previously had posted).

Now look at this picture of the blogger-made-famous Dooce. Is Dooce the female Pat Broom?

Sniper fish

This morning I had a long series of dreams, most of them very adventure-like, which is kind of unusual for me. But one part of the dream was quite funny…

I was in a corner store buying some snack foods and hanging out with the two Brians from this story (neither of whom I’ve seen in close to ten years). I saw a snack food that was particularly noteworthy, because of recent events, and pointed it out to one of the Brians: a bag of cookies named Sniper Cookies. The cookies themselves were fish-shaped, apparently shaped like “sniper fish.” “Funny,” I said, “Who would of thought these cookies would have ever become so topical…”

I woke up this morning and thought about it… “sniper fish?” Is there even such a thing?

The answer is yes.