Friday, October 24, 2008

Camera Obscura: Friday the Infinite 13th; Gone of the Dead; "Lost" Returns

From "Gone of the Dead"

No, I don't think I will eat your brain, although you need your brain eaten, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should have your brain eaten and often, and by someone who knows how."

That's from a blog called Cinema Styles, and I had much appreciation for a short they produced too, for Universal's monsters, with the simple title of "Beautiful Monsters". After more than 70 years, these images and performances remain the most compelling created in horror films. In another 70 years, these images will continue to be among the best ever made.


A new re-boot to the "Friday The 13th" movie series is on the way and what I saw in the trailer really did not impress. Let's be honest - the campy destruction of destructive campers at Crystal Lake by various incarnations and impersonations of one Jason Vorhees have never offered too much more than a momentary thrill. This ain't yer cinematic art form. This is low-budget cheese, though it is excellent low-budget cheese. (For the record, since Michael Bay is the producer here, I fully expect someone/something to explode and if it doesn't, I will be sorely disappointed as that is what Bay does best.)

While doing much movie-promo work for Carmike Cinemas in the 1980s here in Morristown, I hosted numerous "Friday The 13th" openings with contests and prizes and midnight premieres and by far, the crowds of folks sitting quietly in their seats under the dim lights while wearing blood-soaked clothes, holding onto machetes and wearing hockey masks remain in my brain as some of the scariest things I've ever seen. They were just so quiet and well behaved it was truly frightening.

At Cinematical, they offer up An Obsessive-Compulsive's Guide To The Friday-13th Movies, which includes this nugget of information:

Finally, and most disturbingly, four of the 10 films feature men wearing Daisy Duke shorts. Was this acceptable in the 1980s?"

For myself, the best moment in the series comes in "Jason X", or as I like to call it, "Jason Goes To Outer Space", when the fleeing space station folks distract (a newly cyberized) Jason by cranking up the space station holo-deck and programming it to run images of his old campground and some 80s-era camper-babes who want to party. And poor Jason can't resist and can't figure out what the heck is happening.



A brief run for "Toxic Avenger: The Musical".

The makers of the "Saw" movies get the go-ahead to remake a stack of RKO/Val Lewton classics, like "The Body Snatcher" and "I Walked With A Zombie".

Hugh Jackman and Catherine Zeta-Jones to star in a 3-D Musical version of Cleopatra.

Finally, finally, we approach a new season, the 5th, for "Lost". When last we left our heroes, the entire island vanished. This season ... Spock and Gilligan help the Scooby-Gang return to Witch Mountain thanks to a new Knight Rider Car driven by Batman and Dracula. Well, hey, you don't believe me? Watch the trailer right here!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Politics Past and Present

In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
Napoleon I. Bonaparte

Politics, noun. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.
Ambrose Bierce

The one thing that would have made this presidential election a bit more sensible would be if the public and the press had paid the current constant critical attention to the last 8 years. Pretty much all that needs fixing now was tattered right before our eyes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Zombie Love Song for Halloween

It isn't often a pop music band combines a fondness for 80s horror movies (like "The Evil Dead") with the bliss of a first romance ... is it?

In honor of the upcoming holiday, the ever-growing fame of zombie movies, and a great need of silliness in general, I present the band Codavita, and their first single and first video - "In Love With Fear". It's an infectious tune and by far the best Halloween song of 2008.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Miley Cyrus-Sarah Palin Tennessee Hacking Conspiracy

Our humble li'l ol' country state makes the headlines for computer hacking again. First, it was the vice presidential candidate who was hacked and now it's pop star Miley Cyrus.

A 19-year-old hacker who published provocative photos of teen queen Miley Cyrus earlier this year was raided by the FBI Monday morning in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The hacker, named Josh Holly, repeatedly bragged online about breaking into the Disney star's e-mail account and stealing her photos. He also gave interviews to bloggers and others and boasted that authorities would never find him because he moved so often. [Last month Holly contacted Threat Level seeking to have an article written about him here.]

But this morning the FBI did find him and, after talking with him for more than an hour about his exploits, served him with a search warrant and a list of items to be seized (which was posted at the hacking site after Holly showed it to a friend)."

Dang, we is modern.

Are You A "Real American"?

It was most strange watching The Daily Show on Monday night, since Jon Stewart and his staff pretty much copied my post from Sunday. Of course, I think my attempt to write about it was more feeble, and their version was a heck of a lot funnier.

However, this concept of real America vs. fake America, that a smaller town is inherently better than a larger town, that your choice during an election is framed purely by Good America vs. Evil America is an enormous denial of reality and a fervent embrace of the worst of human attributes. It's a tactic of creating an enemy to blame for every ill, a simplistic worldview with dangerous consequences.

Encoding political debate with such ideas has many historical precedences, none of them any good.

One leader, one people, signifies one master and millions of slaves."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Destroying America To Save It

A nation divided into a maze of minor and major annoyances - or worse, along purely angry and arbitrary imaginings - has emerged as the current snake-oil and cure-all the hucksters of the Republican party are selling to us all. (It's an old GOP trick, really. Just refer to the "dirty tricks" of the Nixon campaign led by folks like Donald Segretti ... who was, believe it or not, a campaign co-chair for John McCain in Orange County in the 2000 campaign.)

By no means do I suggest that the Democrat Party somehow stands like a lone stalwart paladin on a sun-drenched hill. But I'm consistently seeing examples that there's something akin to a heinous desire that an America tattered and torn by divisions is the preference of the Republican party should they lose to Senator Obama.

The slow-bubbling poisonous brew has long been cooking. Careers are made by these chefs who endlessly season their pot-stirring with the chant "the other side hates you, hates your families, hates America." The bellow their thunders across radio and television via the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Inghram, G. Gordon Liddy, and on and on. Their anti-two party system philosophy begets simple slogans, such as those of the best-selling books of Ann Coulter - "Slander", "Treason", "Godless" -- all dire warnings (often plagarized and larded with pure fiction) that non-Republicans have distorted the entire history of the nation, eviscerated your belief systems, and secretly plot to educate the nation into some kind of hive of marxist-socialist drones.

She tends these days to temper her hatred with a dismissive comment that she's just "an entertainer, I'm only joking, folks!" Which is yet another lie of course - as she told Human Events in 2007:

Christianity fuels everything I write. Being a Christian means that I am called upon to do battle against lies, injustice, cruelty, hypocrisy—you know, all the virtues in the church of liberalism.

"Church of Liberalism" is a phrase and a concept which she invented with a dual purpose: to make money and instill the notion of a holy war she wants to take place in America. As with all the other talking heads mentioned above, they are faithful followers in the Church of Consumerism: they're only in it for the money and the power money provides. They are anti-science and pro-superstition.

As this current presidential race has shown, fomenting fear and hatred within America and for elected officials remain the only tools many Republicans can wield.

V.P. candidate Sarah Palin this week told a rally of supporters in North Carolina:

We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation."

Her words reveal a blatant, elitist snobbery. As writer/comedian Sarah Vowell said on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this week - the East Coast, with cities like Manhattan and Washington, D.C. were seen as properly American cities by the terrorists of Al Queda on Sept. 11th.

Is it any wonder her supporters make death threats against Senator Obama? Her message is clear - good Americans must defeat bad Americans by any and all means necessary.

Other Republicans are pushing this propaganda too, like McCain campaign adviser
Nancy Pfotenhauer, who says that “real Virginia” does not include Northern Virginia:

"I certainly agree that Northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. … But the rest of the state — real Virginia if you will — I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message."

MSNBC host Kevin Corke gave Pfotenhauer a chance to revise her answer, telling her: “Nancy, I’m going to give you a chance to climb back off that ledge — Did you say ‘real Virginia’?”

But Pfotenhauer didn’t budge, and instead dug a deeper hole.

"Real Virginia, I take to be, this part of the state that’s more Southern in nature, if you will."

Sen. McCain's brother recently called sections of Virginia "Communist country".

Echoing the paranoid delusions of Senator Joe McCarthy, a Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann announced this week that an investigation needs to be held in congress itself to root out the anti-Americans who hold office there right now. I half-expected her to wave a piece of paper at the camera, a la McCarthy, and proclaim "I have a list right here of Communists in the Congress!"

Rep. Bachmann, often echoing talking points she hears via Limbaugh, claimed recently that wildlife and caribou in Alaska find warmth by huddling near oil pipelines, "
The pipeline has now become a meeting ground and “coffee klatch” for the caribou."

Again, no science, no fact, nothing but superstition and catchy phrases meant to garner momentary mention on the news, fuel the ravings of lie-filled emails, and insure that many Americans eye each other with violent distrust. Just wink at 'em, youbetcha, but never doubt them Democrats are dangerous.

If a wounded animal can be capable of wanton destruction, the waning Conservative Republican may seek to wreak the same kind of damage on us all.