Instant Review: May

May has always been just a little weird. Born with a lazy eye, she grew up wearing a corrective eye patch. The other kids didn’t like her, so her mother–a doll maker–gave her a special doll and told her that, if she didn’t have any friends, she should make her own. When she grew up, that’s just what May did.

As independent horror films go, this is one of the better ones. The acting is good, the story is unique, the writing is smart and funny, and the characters are well developed. And, Angela Bettis, as May, is perfectly mesmerizing and disturbing.


Edited for Content

A federal judge has ruled that it is illegal for 3rd parties to edit films for content. Companies like CleanFlix are now prohibited from selling or renting films from which they have removed sex, violence, profanity, or any other potentially offensive material. Existing sanitized discs and video tapes must be turned over to the studios for destruction.

Sayeth the judge: “What is protected are the creator’s rights to protect its creation in the form in which it was created.”


What to do if you are offended by cursing, sex, etc.? Do a little research before buying or renting movies. You wouldn’t go to a theater and expect a film to be edited to your liking. Why should DVDs be any different? If you don’t want to see sex and violence, don’t watch movies containing sex and violence. Easy peasy.

Ironically, I came across a blog post by someone who had just watched The Libertine. They were disturbed by the story, which surprised me. What, exactly, did they expect from a movie about John Wilmot? The mind wobbles.


Just for Andy

Mayberry LSD

Andy mentioned Mayberry LSD, so I had to go on a scavenger hunt. I knew I had it tucked away somewhere, but I’ve moved approximately twelfty times since 1991, when it was published, so I had to do some digging.

In other news, the DVD burner installation went as well as could be hoped. It seems like, no matter how straightforward the process is, I end up screwing it up somehow. This time, I got the drive physically installed, and the case put back together, to find that I hadn’t set the jumper to Master. Duh. So I had to take the damned thing back out again, because the power unit is too close to the disc drives to get at and move the jumpers from inside the case. Hrmf. Then, I dropped the jumper and couldn’t find it, so I had to use the one from the b0rkened drive. On the bright side, software driver and installation, etc. went flawlessly. And, we have achieved burning. Woot!

The thing about installing hardware or software is that it’s dead boring when it goes well and aneurysm-inducing when it doesn’t. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. That’s why I hate it when people ask me to help them out with computer stuff. It’s not that it’s difficult, but when it does go bad, it goes very, very bad, indeed.

And now, an instant review: Breakfast on Pluto (based on the book by Pactrick McCabe)

Think Hedwig and the Angry Inch with a soupçon of In the Name of the Father and you’ll have a good feel for the tone and storyline. Glam Irish transwoman Kitten goes on a quest to find her mother and gets tangled up in all manner of weirdness, including Republican gun runners and a nightclub bombing. I do so adore Cillian Murphy. I fell in love with him in Disco Pigs, and have not been disappointed in anything he’s done since. Even Red Eye was damned entertaining. So, I unreservedly endorse Breakfast on Pluto.

Oh, and the soundtrack is most excellent!

Ladybusiness, Pets, Photography

Sunday Dogblogging and an Instant Review


Harriet often sits upright on the couch, with her paws on her belly, like a little old man watching television. This time, her left paw was strategically placed, which cracked me up, so I got out the camera.

Instant Review: An American Haunting

Ms. Lea, D, and I went to see An American Haunting last night. I just wanted to see a movie–it didn’t matter which one, as long as Tom Cruise wasn’t in it. I like horror and ghost stories, so An American Haunting sounded good to me.

It is allegedly based on a true story, and I had done a little reading ahead of time on the story and various explanations for what had happened. The first 2/3 of the movie seemed to follow the general storyline fairly faithfully: The father pisses off a neighbor in a land deal gone wrong. The neighbor is thought to be a witch. She curses the family. When a series of strange occurrences plague the family, they blame the neighborhood witch. Most of the haunting involves tormenting of the family’s daughter, then, later, the father.

But then, the movie took a bizarre right turn. Instead of the common assumption that the neighbor was responsible for the haunting, the movie storyline involved the father molesting the daughter, who then had some sort of psychotic/supernatural split. It was the daughter who was responsible for the haunting. Why she would have spent years tormenting herself is a mystery to me. Perhaps it was a passive-aggressive way to get back at her father? In any event, the daughter does end up getting her revenge on her father, by goading her mother into poisoning him. After the father’s death, the haunting ceases.

I didn’t get obsessive about doing pre-movie research, so I could’ve missed some theories, but nowhere did I come across a father-molesting-daughter theory. And, while there was some set-up for that conclusion, it ended up feeling abrupt, like it had been tacked on at the last minute.

I do wonder if the daughter might have been epileptic. In the early 1800s, when the haunting took place, it was thought that epileptics were possessed by spirits. Exorcism was a common “treatment” for the disease. It may have been preferable to make one’s community believe you are the victim of a haunting than to admit that your daughter was possessed by evil spirits. Someone with epilepsy might have been blamed for all sorts of bad happenings, so deflecting the blame onto a neighbor would have been a stroke of PR genius.


Instant Reviews: Undead & Hostel

A video store recently opened up next door to me. Actually, my neighbor has acquired a roommate who has a ginormous DVD collection, so I’ve been availing myself of it. And, lucky me, he has a good selection of horror fil-ums. I win!

First, Undead. It’s a hi-larious little zombie movie, set in an Australian fishing village. In addition to zombies, it has a cowboy fisherman, a reluctant beauty queen, aliens, and the requisite woman-in-labor sub-plot. What’s not to like? For the zombie aficionados, it has a bit of a Shaun of the Dead feel, what with Teh Funny and all, and the zombies are slow and shambling.

Second, Hostel. This is another Eli Roth film. Hostel wasn’t as good as Cabin Fever. It lacked the same humor component, which made the gore feel more relentless. Roth does a great job of creating texture and atmosphere, though.

Next up, Dog Soldiers. Werewolves? Check. Gore? Check. Stunning views of the Scottish Highlands? Check. Okaythen!


Instant Review: Wolf Creek

I spent most of the weekend doing manual labor. As a reward, I dangled a few fil-ums in front of myself. One of them was Wolf Creek. Holy crap! I’m a huge fan of horror movies. It takes a fair amount to gross me out and even more to truly scare me. This one did both. In fact, I had to watch it in three sittings, because it creeped me out that badly. The creepiness started with the juxtaposition of the wild and gorgeous and completely unforgiving landscape with the “happy kids on holiday.” It was just three college students and the Australian Outback, where there’s nothing but sand and rock and sky and wildlife, as far as the eye can see. That isolation created a sense of disquiet that continued to build, unrelieved, throughout the film. I think the tension, as much as the actual “gore” scenes, was what made the film so frightening.

It was “based on a true story” in the same way that Fargo was. In other words, not so much. There are several murder cases that it is said to be based on, but none of them are a good match. I think linking it to actual events was nothing but creative marketing. It didn’t hurt that it was written, acted, and filmed in a hyper-realistic manner. There is a true crime feel to to the movie that adds to the uber-creep factor.

Basically, three college students go on a backpacking trek across Australia. They decide to buy a car and drive to Wolf(e) Creek Crater, which is in the middle of nowhere. While there, their car dies mysteriously. Just as mysteriously, a Crocodile Dundee-type stranger appears and offers to tow their car to his camp, where he says he can fix it for them. Having never seen a horror movie and therefore unaware that strangers are Very Bad News, they stupidly take him up on his offer. They drive and drive and drive and drive and drive until they reach his camp, at which point offers them drug-laced water and much awfulness ensues. I shall spare you the truly gory details.

I will say, though, that while it scared the hell out of me, I don’t see the point of some critics who thought the movie went overboard. It’s a horror film. It’s supposed to gross you out and/or scare the pee out of you. Yes, some of it is in really, really bad taste. Again, it’s a horror movie. It’s not supposed to be in good taste. Duh.

On a technical note, it was shot in hi-definition video. Wow! The nature/landscape sequences, including one of an eclipse, are stunning. The cinematographer has done a lot of documentary work, and his skills are put to good use here. The Outback is truly one of the stars of the movie.


Instant Review: Degrassi

Since Netflix has decided to start sending me random titles, I spent tonight not watching season 4 of Little House. Instead, I spent it watching Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi. Go ahead, laugh. I know you want to. The thing is, I love, love, loved the original Degrassi shows. They were amazing, in that they treated kids with dignity and allowed their voices to be heard. There wasn’t, and isn’t, anything else like it on television in the US.

I’ve only seen the first season of Degrassi: the next generation, but so far, it seems to have just as much integrity as the originals. So, at one point, I placed Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi in my queue (cuz, why not?), and via the magic of the Netflix Queue Randomizing Elves, it showed up in my mailbox yesterday.

I really enjoyed it. The DVD contains three episodes (plus extras) from the new series. I don’t know which season they were from. Only the first season has been released on DVD, I think, so it’ll be awhile before I’ll have a chance to see them in context. Though they stand alone fairly well, considering the soap opera-esque nature of Degrassi, it would be nice to see how they connect up with the rest of the shows. And that brings me to perhaps the most important point: do not watch the DVD thinking it’s a Jay and Silent Bob story. It’s not. It’s a Degrassi story, and if you aren’t familiar with the show, you’re likely to be a little lost and a lot disappointed.

About the extras: There is an interview with Kevin Smith, in which he talks about being a fan of the old series and how he ended up working on the new one. He makes some interesting points about what makes the whole project is so different from US teen television and about why the same shows could not ever be created here. He also talks about how some folks “get it” and some don’t, and why. It’s funny. My high school was just like Degrassi in some ways, and not in others. It was small and everyone knew everyone else. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s like living in a small town, in that everyone knows everyone else’s business. That level of familiarity can foster tolerance and understanding, but it can also lead to bullying and all manner of meanness. There was a lot of both going on in my school. There were plenty of mean kids (lordy, the girls on the volleyball team were insufferable!), but some really cool ones, too. Luckily, I didn’t have depend on my classmates for social interaction. Instead, because the school was located on a college campus, I spent my free time on campus. College kids were much easier to get along with, I found, and a lot more willing to take you as you were.

So, anyway, thanks to the Netflix Queue Randomizing Elves, I’ve spent the entire evening thinking about high school.