Monthly Archives: October 2011
My mother-in-law and I talk about film a lot. An ongoing discussion seems to be that she doesn’t like horror movies – or creepy, scary, or anything like that of the kind. She’s often puzzled that I do like them. The argument that comes up most frequently is why would someone want to be scared. The point is I don’t want to be scared. I wouldn’t watch these things if they truly scared me. In fact, there is one movie I will not watch because it does absolutely terrify me.
Nosferatu – A Symphony of Horror ~ This 1922 classic of German silent horror is perhaps one of the greatest and most enigmatic and most legendary of all horror films – and I have made a conscious effort not to view it for years, as when I have, it’s given me nightmares, when I was able to finally get to sleep that is.
I’m not sure if it’s the imagery of the horrifying Max Schreck who played the vampire Graf Orlok or not. I am able to watch movies that emulate the visuals like the remake from 1979, or “‘Salem’s Lot,” or even Shadow of the Vampire, which is about the making of this film. So it just must be the wonderful shadowy direction of F.W. Murnau, and Max Schreck himself. Oddly enough, Graf Orlok only appears on screen for nine minutes, but it’s enough. No matter how you cut it, Schreck is scary here. The Renfield character played by Alexander Granach is also pretty fearsome as well.
Nosferatu is an unauthorized filming of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” thus why so many names are changed while the story remains much the same. Because of an ugly lawsuit, Stoker’s widow had every print and negative of the movie destroyed. Luckily (depending on your outlook), copies reappeared in other countries around the world. It has since fallen into the public domain, and has been accompanied by several wonderful soundtracks, including one by Type O Negative.
I had mentioned the shadow work previously. It is some of the best ever in film history in my opinion, and the German silents were masters of the artform. And still, I won’t watch it. I love watching old movies on the big screen, which is why I’m such a big fan of the Silver Screen Classics on the local Rave, but notably I once turned down a chance to see Nosferatu in a theater, it scares me that much. I probably won’t even look at the pics supporting this blog entry.
Darna Ang Pagbabalik ~ I’m a big fan of Mars Ravelo’s comics work and his sometimes brilliant pantheon of Filipino superheroes. I love me some Captain Barbell, Lastikman and Darna. But much like film versions of American superheroes, their Filipino cousins have hit and miss success. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re not. Case in point – Darna Ang Pagbabalik, or as translated to English, “Darna The Return.”
For those not in the know, Darna is basically the Wonder Woman of the Phillipines, but not enough to create litigation. She was bestowed power from the gods, given a magic stone to transform into her super-identity, and has other powers like heat vision, telekinesis, and telepathy, that keep her out of court even though she also frequently plays ‘bullets and bracelets’ like a certain Amazon Princess. She’s been around since 1950 in comics, movies and television.
Darna Ang Pagbabalik is pretty traditional superhero fare, if a bit campy. Darna fights crime, loses her magic stone, and romances her leading man, while her snake-haired archenemy Valentina tries to take over the nation via evangelist television. The beautiful and athletic Anjanette Abayari is more than suitable in the title role and Pilita Corrales is very creepy doing “V” imitations with mice as the heavy. The special effects are pretty cheap for the mid-1990s but about on par with the CBS Marvel telemovies of the late 1970s.
If you don’t mind subtitles and some hokey special effects and dialogue, this isn’t a bad flick for superhero fanboys and girls. However I would recommend the 2000 versions of Captain Barbell and Lastikman if you’re looking for a proper introduction to these wonderful Mars Ravelo characters.
“Hello Again” by The Cars.
The Cars were at the start of the New Wave but this entry, the fourth single from “Heartbeat City,” comes from late in 1984, well after the MTV video revolution. In fact, at this time, Ric Ocasek and The Cars were at the forefront of the music video world and recruited the legendary Andy Warhol to direct this one. He appears throughout, and also look for a very young Gina Gershon.
The song, my favorite from the album which is full of great tunes, both wildly popular and largely unknown, seems to me to be about The Wizard of Oz, but the video seems to focus on the dangers of gratuitous sex and violence in music videos. Somehow that seems too appropriate.
When I was a kid, way back in the Dark Ages known as the 1970s, these cars called SSP Racers were all the rage. These wonderful toys with the one big wheel and the T-stick to rev them up and race across the concrete or the floor filled many days and nights of my childhood. There were dozens of models to collect and then they came out with the next evolution – the SSP Smash-Up Derby. Not only could you race them, now you could run these cars at each other and parts would fly off, just like in the demolition derby.
When I first started college, in that null zone between the Atari 2600 and the first Nintendo system, I had a first date with a girl who invited me babysitting. The home where she was babysitting had an Atari system, so I borrowed some games to play while we, ahem, babysat. Before we moved on to other activities, we played several racing games on the Atari like Night Driver, Pole Position, Enduro and Spy Hunter (I think, it might have been too early for that last one), but because we had other things on our minds, we played them badly, and crashed into stuff constantly. In hindsight it was kind of fun. The crashing part, I meant.
Now among the demo downloads from the PlayStation Store I have found a game that kinda puts together those two memories into a fun beach atmosphere. It’s called Smash Cars, and I like it a lot, and even my feeble gamer novice mind can grasp how it works.
You’re controlling a little remote control sand buggy and racing around a preset course on the beach. Oh sure, it’s a race, and you’re supposed to win and get the best time, but I had the best time by crashing into stuff. You can drive through boxes, drive off the pier, and the most fun, crash into the people in the beach. I absolutely love hitting the jump button as I approach this one guy, and nailing him right in the beanbag if you know what I mean.
I am not a fan of either David E. Kelley or TV law shows. The first part is a matter of liking good writing and not liking where the author puts his opinions inappropriately into the mouths of his characters. Kelley also gets very preachy and overly topical in forums where it’s supposed to be entertainment, not op-ed. The second part is first because it usually bores me, and also, The Bride, being an attorney herself, has a very low tolerance for such crap in her off-work life.
When The Bride showed interest in “Harry’s Law,” which also starred Stephen King favorite Kathy Bates at her acerbic best, I went easily along for the ride, despite it being a David E. Kelley law drama. Disenfranchised and disillusioned lawyer Harriet “Harry” Korn finds new life as a neighborhood attorney based out of a shoe store in a bad section of Cincinnati. She was surrounded by a cast of well-meaning folks who equally believe in helping their neighborhood. It was a different kind of law show, more about community than court, and it was also critically acclaimed, and one of the few new series to survive what has lately been a rather nasty television season of canceled programs.
When it returned this season, things were different. The kind of lawyers she fought against in the first season, she seemed to turn into. The kind of cases she would never have taken in the first season, she takes in every episode. And the very law firm she opposed in most episodes in the first season, she merges with! What the hell happened?
Basically all of the charm, wit and humanity that brought both The Bride and myself in to this series is gone. “Harry’s Law” is just another law show now. Is David E. Kelly just recycling old “The Practice” scripts now? Is he getting even with NBC for not picking up his “Wonder Woman“? What the hell?
Just a bit of shameless self-promotion here today. Some of you know, and some of you don’t know, but this isn’t my only blog, nor my only outlet of rage and ignorance. I also blog elsewhere on the innerwebs.
One of those other places is The Non-Gamer’s Gamer’s Blog. It was a project I came up with a while ago to keep myself from becoming a bum. You see the theory is that the only thing that keeps a freelance writer from officially becoming a bum is the ownership of a gaming system. With a gaming system in the house, I had to do something – blogging about it – to keep me from bumship.
So here is The Non-Gamer’s Gamer’s Blog, described as “A forty-something non-gamer gets a PlayStation 3 and tries to get up to speed, reviewing games and posting random thoughts about the electronic gaming world.”
If you so dare, you can enjoy it here.