Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blast from the Past: More Horror Films of the 70s and 80s!

For my last Halloween Horrors post, here is another selection of trailers from some of the best (and worst) horror films of the 70s & 80s! Enjoy.









1. Suspiria (1977) - This one is strange, no question. But some people put this at the top of their list.
2. Hellraiser (1987) - One of the few genuinely scary horror films, by the master, Clive Barker. The sequels can't match it.
3. It Lives Again! (1978) - More semi-scary, mutant killer babies!
4. The Gate (1987) - Yes kids, this is what movie monsters looked like before CGI.
5. Fright Night (1985) - Not strictly horror, as there is plenty of campy humor here. But it's still one of my favorites.
6. Sleepaway Camp (1983) - This one is bad, and a little bizarre. Hey, it was the 80s.
7. Prom Night (1980) - Yet another horror film, tied to a special day. But at least it had Jamie Lee Curtis!
8. The Exorcist (1973) - And I saved the granddaddy of all true HORROR for last!

Unpleasant dreams!

Photo of the Day, Take II: Wil Wheaton-O'Lantern!

Wil Wheaton is famous for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more recently as Sheldon's nemesis on The Big Bang Theory. Via his Twitter feed comes this fantastic jack-o'lantern. Yep, you're looking at a pumpkin.

Source: PicasaWeb

Photo of the Day: Bush League

I found this shot at the Drudge Report. I'm only posting it because former President George W. Bush looks kinda goofy. Similar pictures of President Obama engaged in the same activity have been a mainstay of conservative blogs. So, turnabout is fair play.

Halloween Horrors: Mirror Scares!

Jon Stewart's Amazing Speech

I had the big Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" on C-SPAN on for its duration yesterday. Some of it was a little thin, some of it was fun and entertaining. The crowd looked enormous, though estimates vary wildly (particularly if the source is right-leaning).  All-in-all, I'd say it was a pretty big success. But the best bit was at the end, with Stewart delivering a speech more in the style of his appearances on FOX "News" and CNN than on his own show.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Overtime with Bill Maher: October 29, 2010

Okay, So Glenn Beck is Crazy

I guess we knew that. Add paranoid and delusional. Or is that the same as crazy? In this political climate, it's difficult to tell.

Halloween Horrors: Greenlee Gazette's Friday the 13th Guide

Happy Halloween! If you have not yet picked out your scary movies for your Halloween weekend, here is another of my lists from the early days of the blog, this one a run-down of the famous Friday the 13th series. When I originally wrote this, news of a "reboot" of the series was fresh. Now it is available on DVD and Blu-ray, and I definitely recommend it.


Photo from Wikipedia.org

Sprinkled throughout this blog is ample evidence that I am a horror movie nut. That's in addition to being a comic book/superhero nut, a 70s ABC-TV nut, and a far-left loony moonbat political nut!

With Halloween coming up, there will undoubtedly be a heavier focus on the horror movie nut side of me. Previously, I commented on how much I did not want to see Rob Zombie's re-imagined Halloween. I still don't, but I'm sure someday I'll get the DVD. Anyway, unlike the original Halloween, I'm not sure anyone would put Friday the 13th in the "classic" category. At least not good classics. The series is loved with a heavy dose of nostalgia, and not a lot else.

Sure, it's iconic, was amazingly influential, and made a whole lot of money for both Paramount and New Line studios. But the Friday the 13th string of movies was easily the hollowest, least plotted, acted and impactful storywise of the horror movie franchises (Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Hellraiser). Each Friday film pretty much follows a mindless killer, stalking stupid people.

There were variations along the way. And if you try to assign a real-world continuity to the films, you'll give yourself a headache that feels like a machete in your skull. Here are some short recaps (star ratings do not relate to the real movie world, only within the horror movie genre!):

Friday the 13th - The first film is by far the best. Jason does not appear (outside of a possible hallucination), but his storyline is set up. Notable for Betsy Palmer's iconic performance as Jason's mother. Sets the tone and atmosphere for the first four to seven movies. Genuinely scary for the uninitiated. Plus, Kevin Bacon. ***

Friday the 13th, Part 2 -Almost as good as the first, though very short (especially considering the recap at the beginning). Notable for Amy Steel's strong performance, the VW bug scene, and the guy in the wheelchair. Struggles to find a reason why Jason didn't drown, and why he was motivated to start his killing spree. Though the explanation is weak, it is used as the basis for the rest of the series. **

Friday the 13th, Part 3 - This (originally) 3D installment is one of the weakest, with very little story, and shots that were intended for the 3D audience. Most notable for hand-walking guy's death, and Jason's acquisition of his iconic hockey mask.  I initially thought this installment was terrible, but it's better in retrospect. *

Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter - Yeah, right! It's the best of sequels, and could have served as the finale, but there was more money to be made. Jason ventures out of Camp Crystal Lake, and seems to meet his end. Considering that this was 1984, I'm sure you know that it wasn't to be. Plus, Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover? ***

Friday the 13th (Part V): A New Beginning - Close to as good as part 4, reviled by fans for its plot twist, but very much in line with the tone of the first four movies. And Corey Feldman only wishes he grew up to look like John Shepherd!  Woof. **

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives - Yeah, I guess he lives. Often considered one of the best sequels, it left me cold. It felt like a different studio picked up the reigns. This edition has a vastly different tone from the first five films, and the gory kills just aren't there.  But I guess the MPAA is to blame for that. *

Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood - They throw a psychic girl into the mix, and tack on a ridiculous ending, which puts Jason into the same scenario as the end of the last movie--making this one irrelevant. On the plus side the tone of the first five movies is back. And for you gay fans out there, this one is known as FriGAY the 13th for the high number of gay actors in the movie. *

Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan - The tone is still there, as Jason stows away on a cruise ship bound for New York. Most of the action is on the boat, and there are some great scenes. But it feels like the series is running on fumes. And that ending. What the hell? *1/2

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday - Speaking of Hell, New Line Cinema took over the franchise from Paramount here, and it is very, very obvious this was made by others. Some of the feel is still there, and the film is undeniably fun. Adds a bunch of new story elements that wreck any (already strained) continuity from the first 8 films. Also ignores the end of Part VIII. Fun anyway. And it sets up the movie after the next one.**1/2

Jason X - Tenth installment puts Jason in space, with no context to the rest of the storyline. Continuity-wise has no home, and is akin to a comic book "elseworlds" or "imaginary story." Has its fun parts, but utterly skippable. But the cryogenic scene? Priceless. *1/2

Freddy Vs. Jason - I loved it. They took the monster from the best horror franchise (though it had run out of steam) and the worst (but still loved), and pitted them against each other. Truly, one of the best outings for this type of movie in a long, long time. That said, not the least bit scary. Plays like gory comedy. ***

Friday the 13th (Remake) - I was right that they couldn't really mess up the remake. It's a hoot. The twist--apparently--is that most of the characters you kinda want to see dead. And Jason is given a much heftier back-story. Unfortunately, they still don't explain what happened that made Mrs. Voorhees think he died when he didn't. Still, I'd put this in the top three with the first two installments. I don't know if there will be a part 2 (actually XIII), but I'm game. ***

Death Threats for Not Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?

Ummm. . .I hate to break it to you ΓΌber-patriots out there, but the Pledge of Allegiance was created as an advertising slogan to sell American flags.  Idiots.

[Excerpt]

Woman Receives Death Threats Days After Beck Targets Her On His Show





The League of Women Voters has filed complaints with police in Evanston, IL and the FBI saying that one of their officials has been targeted by death threats relating to a candidatess debate she moderated last week. Kathy Tate-Bradish was a volunteer moderator at the October 21 debate in the state’s 8th District and sparked conservative outrage when she expressed what was perceived as “lukewarm” support for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. . .
 
Read more at: Think Progress

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sharron Angle Bans Press, Won't Take Questions

As much as I dread the possibility of a Republican takeover of our politics (still hoping not), one of the many things I'm dreading, is the charge of "sore loser."  What do I mean? Only that if that scenario comes to pass on Tuesday, any negative reporting of that fact will be met with those cat calls.  We've heard it before. . .in fact, we heard it for eight fricking years.

A short two years later, America has inexplicably (apparently) flipped back to the same force of negativity that swamped the economy, and ruled with a hammer. They will name us sore losers, but have shown themselves to be the worst winners  possible. And they will again. One more time, we will have to endure a stunning blindness to their own behavior. The tea party is a collection of sore losers. They'll tell you that they were a response to President Obama's policies, but that isn't true. Considering that the tea party formed mere weeks after Obama's inauguration, there simply wasn't time. But what's truth? It apparently has very little place in our politics these days.

In fact, all the rules seem to be out the window. Sharron Angle, the brightest star on the hybrid tea bagger/GOP elephant, wants us to pretend she's never had extreme positions. She expects the media to ask her only the questions she wants asked, as though they are there for her promotion only. She thinks she can simply set the rules for the press, and get away with it. The sad thing is, she IS getting away with it.  I'm frankly baffled by her viability. In no other election cycle would she have had any hope of getting elected to national office.


[Excerpt]


Angle spokeswoman bans 2 Las Vegas TV stations from election night party for asking questions




Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle's campaign is banning two Las Vegas television stations from covering the candidate's election night party as punishment for asking questions without permission. . .


Read more at: Washington Examiner

Stomach Churning Sharron Angle "Faith" Ad

This political season has been particularly ugly. But in the last few days, the commercials have taken a turn for the worse, which I didn't even think was possible.  The mud-flinging has turned into shit-slinging. So, it isn't surprising that someone has finally actually put a race in the "Us" vs. "Them" realm, literally.  I've heard this ad a couple of times on the radio here in Las Vegas, and was fairly nauseated by it.

Any mingling of religion and politics usually rubs me the wrong way, but this one takes the cake.  Harry Reid is a "Dem." But Sharron Angle is like "us," a good, god-fearing woman. I'm just surprised they didn't get into Mormon bashing while they were at it.  The use of a cloying version of the song "America" in the background, along with an equally cloying, affable grandpa voice irked me as much as the content of the ad.

The first time I heard it, it did not evoke a warm feeling for Sharron Angle as the ad intends. This is what I thought of:

"When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag carrying a cross" - Robert Sinclair, 1835

Senator David Vitter's Hooker Problem

You know that everything in politics is topsy-turvy when a disgraced Senator like David Vitter (R-Louisiana) is leading in the polls.  I know that Democrats haven't exactly thrilled anybody, but it would seem that Republicans can do just about anything that used to disqualify anyone from office, and still remain viable candidates.  But we also don't see political ads laying it out quite as starkly as this ad. But I think it's too late to work.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Does the Tea Party Even Understand Their Own Position on Things?

Whenever I've had an argument with a staunch, FOX "News"-watchin,' Sarah Palin-lovin,' tea baggin' conservative, I've found them to be very emphatic on their positions. But if you ask one, or perhaps two follow-up questions, they dither. They get exasperated, flap their hands, and act as though everybody knows what they're trying to say, so why should they have to say it?  It may be an overgeneralization, but it is at least common that many do not have a depth of knowledge on very many issues. They know their position--usually in a catchy soundbite--and maybe a couple of nuggets of information that might have a feeling of truthiness.  But then they sputter out.

This is usual behavior for low information voters, but these folks listen to Glenn Beck every danged day, right? He's supposed to be a font of heretofore undiscovered information. But they're only hearing the high (or low) points.  Somehow, armed with vagaries and buzzwords, these folks have managed to take control of the political message this election season.  It's a little scary.  But let me show you what I mean.

Here's Rachel Maddow up in Alaska, talking to a bunch of Joe Miller supporters. Now, right away, any conservative reader is saying, oh, SURE, MAD-COW.  But put aside your taunts and silly insults, and find one single thing that Maddow says or does that is unfair or unbalanced here.  And watch these people dither.


Halloween Horrors: Top 10 BAD Horror Movies

Yep, it's another re-run. But Halloween's a-comin', and we're running out of time to prepare for a horror movie marathon! And sometimes, you've just got to have a really tacky--but still fun!--vintage horror film.


Image from Wikipedia

I got to thinking of other lists I've posted about horror movies--scary, funny, classic--and realized I'd neglected a whole cache of horror movies. Those movies that are so bad, they're good. Well, "good" might be too strong. But for one reason or another, these really bad horror movies found their way into my heart. See what you think.

Greenlee Gazette's Top 10 BAD Horror Movies

1. Sleepaway Camp (1983) - A legendary bad horror film. It tries to jump on the bandwagon of Friday the 13th, and its ilk, and does so supremely badly. It has a (SPOILER ALERT!) Crying Game twist ending! It also sets up two sequels, which were intentionally bad.

2. It's Alive! (1974) - What's scarier than a twisted, mutant, killer baby? Maybe the stuntman crawling under a baby costume? Hilariously bad, as are its sequels. You've got to hand it to them, It Lives Again! is a terrific name for a sequel.

3. Prom Night (1980) - Trying to cash in on Halloween, this film actually landed Jamie Lee Curtis in the starring role. Stretching the "holiday" theme of other successful horror films, this one has a lame killer, with a lamer reason for being a killer. Still, they remade it in 2008 anyway. And it was worse.
4. Night of the Creeps (1986) - OK, this one may have been intentionally bad. But I'm not sure. It does employ cheapie horror staple Tom Atkins. And has some very funny (ooh, I mean scary) effects. Good for a laugh. But not much more than that.

5. Truth or Dare? - A Critical Madness (1986) - Not the Madonna documentary. No, this abysmally bad horror film is a rarity--no one I've ever talked to has heard of it. A seemingly ordinary man goes bananas, and starts killing people, most hilariously a bunch of people at a bus stop. You will sit with your mouth agape at the badness of this film. Rare, but if you can find it, have fun. Amazingly, there have been two sequels and another one is planned!

6. Squirm (1976) - Killer worms. I'm not kidding. My favorite part is when one of the unlucky ladies decides to take a shower, and worms come out of the shower head. We went to see this at the drive-in when I was a kid, thinking the double-play of this and the film below was a single film, Tentacles & Squirm. Hey, it sounded better than it was.

7. Tentacles (1977) - And speaking of Tentacles. . .Hilarious film about a killer squid. No-budget effects led to actors trying to make the squid look like it was attacking them.  This might have been an attempt at a Jaws ripoff, but it was a spectacular failure.

8. The Grudge (2004) - This is the only big budgeted and hit films on this list. I wanted to like this film, I really did. Sarah Michelle Gellar is a fave, since I'm a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. But as compelling as the film tries to be, it was utterly incomprehensible to me. Maybe I just don't get the Japanese horror thing.

9. Bug (1975) - The bugs try to be scary. But they're not. Not to be confused with the Ashley Judd film of the same name, though that one could easily fit in on this list.

10. Deadly Friend (1986) - Little House on the Prairie star, Matthew Laborteaux was pretty cute, but this is a total misfire by horror master, Wes Craven. Highlight: the old lady from Throw Mama From the Train gets beheaded by a basketball. Seriously.

Previously:

Frivolity Break: from Young Frankenstein

To warm you up for Halloween, here's one of my favorite clips from the classic--in every sense of the word--Young Frankenstein.



Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Does Sharron Angle Have a Mini-Me?

Image from source, 8NewsNow
It's strange this campaign season how so many conservative candidates are skipping out on any press event that might be unfriendly to him. How many have we seen dodging reporters, ignoring questions, only appearing on FOX "News" or right-wing talk radio?  When they do land in unfriendly territory, they filibuster the interviewer, and get indignant when asked questions they are uncomfortable answering. In any previous election, this sort of tactic just didn't play well. This time? They all seem to be getting away with it.  But maybe Nevada's Sharron Angle has a different reason?

[Excerpt]

Commentary: Two for the Price of One?



. . .Some call the move pathetic. Others say it’s ingenious. But, I think it explains everything. Sharron Angle tipped her hand. Nobody realizes she pulled back the curtain. She exposed the truth, and the truth has set her free.



That was no decoy. Sharron Angle has a clone. . .

Read more at: 8NewsNow

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet for the link.

What Happens in Vegas: We Am Not So All That Very Smart?

D'oh! Stupid brain. . .

[Excerpt]



Las Vegas Ranked Dumbest City in America




The Daily Beast website has ranked Las Vegas as the dumbest city in America. The report is based on the amount of people with bachelor's degrees, amount of libraries and other data.


But some Las Vegas residents say in this city, it's all about who you know, how much you network and how much ambition you have. . .

Read more at: 8NewsNow

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet (naturally) for the link.

Keith Olbermann's Super-Sized Special Comment on Tea Party Candidates

I'm in the middle of a CPR attempt on a friend's computer, so I'm a little pressed for time for blogging. But I just had to post this clip from Wednesday's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, on all of the crazy tea baggers in next week's elections. It's a handy-dandy one-stop-shopping place to see just how many there are, with Keith's patented vitriol. He's a take it or leave it type of personality, I know. I'll take it.

Jerry Brown's New Amazing Ad: Meg Whitman and Arnold Schwarzenegger Comp...

Just wow.



The View: Is Sharron Angle Ad Racist?

Easy answer: yes. But if you want to see how the ladies of The View see it (hint: Joy Behar uses "moron," "evil" and "bitch"), take a look. By the way, I don't particularly like the program (though I love Behar, Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters in other venues), and have never sat through an entire episode. And I have to say after this clip, Kristin (Saturday Night Live) Wiig's Elizabeth Hasselbeck impression is spot on. 

Frivolity Break: Poor Mr. Worf

I'm a huge Star Trek fan, but I didn't realize The Next Generation's Mr. Worf (the Klingon security officer) took so much punishment! Fun for any Trekker.



Found at: Bam! Kapow!

Birther Alan Keyes Must Pay President Obama's Court Costs

Image from source, Daily Kos
Ha. Ha ha. Hahahahahahaha! Good. It's high time these loony birthers payed some sort of consequence for their actions. And they don't come much loonier than Alan Keyes.

[Excerpt]

Alan Keyes Ordered to Pay President Obama's Court Costs

A state appellate court in Sacramento tossed out a lawsuit claiming President Barack Obama is not eligible to occupy the White House because he is not a natural-born citizen of the United States. The court ordered the plaintiffs to pay all court costs of the defendants.


The lawsuit was filed shortly after the 2008 general election. The leading plaintiff (of three) was Alan Keyes, a former member of President Ronald Reagan's administration from Maryland, and the 2008 American Independent Party candidate for president. . .

Read more at: Daily Kos

Rachel Maddow Interviews Alaska's Joe Miller

Score one for Rachel Maddow, considering that after her last interview with a Republican (Oregon's Art Robinson) didn't go so well. I figured it would be a looong time before she got another chance. This one plays like a scene from The West Wing, with Rachel interviewing Miller while they walk. He's probably just trying to get away from her, which he ultimately does. But I don't think anyone could say that she didn't give a fair interview.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Horrors: Greenlee Gazette Hit with Virus!!!

As a computer guru (that's what they call me anyway), I often roll my eyes at folks who "accidentally" install a bogus program, because they were fooled by a fake alert.  Many's the computer I've had to perform CPR upon after somebody installed one of these devious programs. Then it happened to me.

Whatever you do, don't fall for this alert.
Yesterday, I was looking up something on Google or Bing, I think it was a photo of some celebrity that was in one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies (it wasn't porn, I swear). Anyway, I got one of those bogus alerts, but I thought I dismissed it. But afterward, I got a few legitimate alerts from my McAfee software. It was obnoxious, but McAfee seemed to be handling it ok.

Then, today, I turned on the monitor (having left the computer on), and was confronted with a Microsoft Security Alert.  Here's where I should point out that while I've had Windows 7 for a while, I have infinitely more experience with XP, Vista, 98, 95 and the rest. So, while my first tipoff should have been the verbiage in the window, and the fact that I'd never seen it before, I was fooled.  Whoever came up with the graphics for this thing is a pro.  The bogus alert told me it found a solution, but needed to restart. At this point, I wasn't yet suspicious.  Upon reboot, a window came up immediately that said: "ThinkPoint: World's Leading Security Solution."  Never having heard of this, once again, my antennae should have gone up.  But again, the graphics were terrific, including a Windows logo. 

If you get to this screen, it's too late.
That's when it started rattling off a bunch of "found" problems, and by now the combination of familiar verbiage and the familiarity of the fake scan caused panic.  I immediately hit CTRL+ALT+DEL, and was able to shut the freakin' thing down. But, after that, it doesn't let you open any programs, leaves you with a black screen, and makes you feel like an idiot.

I managed like I often do, to stumble my way through in such a way that I can't even piece together what I did to make it stop terrorizing me.  I got some hints on the interwebz, and managed to get a system restore to complete and get me around the rogue program.  Right now, I'm running every damned thing I can to make sure it's extinguished for good.  If you have run into the same thing I did, here's the site that helped me the most:  DeleteMalWare.Blogspot.com, which is where I culled the images.

By the way, the creators of this crap are downright evil. Had to be said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, I'm aware that this isn't exactly a "virus," though I suppose it sort of implants Trojan horse viruses as part of its work.  But I've found that "virus" has become a catch-all word for any malware or other PC "infection," at least by the public at large.  Kind of how my boss thinks the verb "download" is a multi-purpose word that applies to anything computer related!

Top 10 Conservative Idiots: October 25, 2010

Another Monday, another addition of Democratic Underground's Top 10 Conservative Idiots!*

[Excerpt]

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 385
October 25, 2010
Miller Shite Edition


This week Joe Miller (1,2) gives us a peek at what the Teabaggers have planned for America should they be elected this fall. Elsewhere, Christine O'Donnell (4) shows off her knowledge of the Constitution, and Sharron Angle (7) drops a clanger. . .

Read more at: Democratic Underground

*EDITOR'S NOTE: Greenlee Gazette does not contend that all conservatives are idiots. Merely that many prominent conservatives are idiots, as this column regularly confirms. So, please, no offense is intended to those of my friends and family who are themselves conservative. In other words, present company excluded!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blast from the Past: Classic Horror Movies of the 70s & 80s

Yes, there are a lot of Halloween-themed posts lately. Get used to it! We've got a week to go, and this is my holiday, dammit!  Anyway, I thought there was no better theme for Blast from the Past this week than something Halloween related. Some of my favorite movies of all time are horror films, and they don't even have to be good ones. Shoot, some of the bad ones are my favorites. I don't know how many I'll be able to exhume from the YouTubes, but let's give it a stab. . .








1. Friday the 13th (1980) - This series of films was never deep, never super-high quality, and really not all that good. Loved it anyway, especially the first one, with Betsy Palmer and Kevin Bacon.
2. Halloween (1978) - Without this one, Friday the 13th wouldn't ever have been made. This wasn't just the prototype for every slasher picture that would follow, it's a hell of a good movie. Scary too. And it put Jamie Lee Curtis on the map.
3. It's Alive (1974) - There's only one thing wrong with the Davis baby. . .It's Alive!
4. Phantasm (1979) - Bar none the creepiest, most surreal horror film to come out of the 70s.
5. Squirm (1976) - Did you know that worms can be scary? No, wait, they aren't.
6. Terror Train (1980) - After they ran out of creepy holidays, they started thinking they could make anything scary.
7. Happy Birthday to Me (1981) - Oh wait, one more holiday!
8. Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness (1986) - I had to throw in an obscure one, and they don't get much more obscure than this one. Terrible in every way, but mesmerizing in its ineptitude, this one is a classic of bad cinema. If you think the crazy see-sawing synthesizer music is bad, that's just a preview of the awesome awfulness of this picture.

Unpleasant dreams!

Halloween Horrors: Nightmare & Friday Documentaries are Bloody Good!


Image from Wikipedia
 I often will watch a movie or two on the weekend, and write up quick reviews on the blog.  I'm usually way late in my review, sometimes reviewing a flick that's a decade old. The weirdest reviews come from watching two completely different genres of film, and finding a connecting thread between the two.  But they're often disconnected to anything going on right now, other than the fact that I happened to pick them randomly.

This weekend, as a pre-Halloween treat to myself, I purchased two documentary films of iconic horror movie franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.  Both series caught me at precisely the right age and era in time.  I caught the first Friday film first-run, by sneaking into a drive-in theater at 14.  The first Nightmare was watched on VHS video, not long after it was released. The whole concept of home video was only a few years old, and horror movies were a driving force in that phenomenon (well, that and porn). At one time or another, I've owned them all--in multiple formats--and watched them many, many times.

I'm also one of those people who likes to watch outtakes, gag reels, retrospectives, and sometimes even listen to the director's or actors' commentary tracks. I'm the guy "DVD extras" were invented for. So, buying Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and His Name was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th was a foregone conclusion. The Friday documentary was priced at $6.99, so that was an easy pill to swallow.  But I didn't even hesitate that the other one was $19.99.  Somehow, the pricing structure seemed appropriate to the quality of its respective franchise.  Little did I know, it also relates to the quality of the productions.


Image from Friday the 13th Blog
 His Name was Jason (2009) isn't bad, in fact I'd recommend it to any Friday the 13th fan.  It features a number of original cast members, which is akin to a class reunion, where you get to see how everyone's aged.  Betsy Palmer looks terrific by the way.  Each installment of the franchise is discussed, with every Jason actor interviewed (two of them in the case of Part 2).  If you're a hardcore fan, you probably know a lot of what's being discussed, but it's great to get it all in one place, from the mouths of people who were actually there.  They didn't cheap out by only covering the Paramount selections, or glossing over the New Line years. They even cover a bit of the remake.  It's good, hosted by Tom Savini, creator of the original Jason Voorhees makeup, though in a thoroughly cheeseball way.  Another interesting thing, is that the kills and gore, cursing and nekkid boobies are all here. A lot of documentaries would be a lot more censored, but this one pulls no punches.  There's even some unflattering things said about certain people involved, and acknowledgement of things that didn't work so well.  The film is only an hour and a half, so they don't get to spend much time on each film (of which there are so far 12 editions). Also, the special features are limited to some extended scenes with the various actors and stunt people who played Jason.  Well worth the $6.99 though.  By the way, series stars Kevin Bacon, Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover do not appear. But Amy Steel does, and that's all I cared about!

I was glad I watched Never Sleep Again second, but wish I'd started watching it earlier in the day. This sucker is long. 240 minutes, to be exact, and clearly a labor of love by all involved.  The Nightmare series spans nine films counting the remake (which is not covered, at least not in the main feature), not to mention that one of them actually crosses over with Friday.  Each edition is covered extensively, and I'm tempted to say too much, except that I was never tempted to turn it off.  It's narrated and executive produced by Heather Langenkamp, the most iconic star of the series, besides Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger.

Each edition is relatively self contained, with many of the original stars and crew interviewed, with plentiful clips and behind-the-scenes action. The motivations for what was included, what was left out, what worked and didn't are all discussed, including backstage friendships and feuds.  I can't think of much of anything a fan wants to know not being in the film. It's really a rip-roaring good time,and is highly recommended to any fan--though you may want to watch it in stages if you don't want to burn through an afternoon.

Unlike the Jason documentary, Never Sleep Again is chock full of special features, though I haven't gotten around to them yet. They include a filmmaker commentary, slashed scenes, Return to Elm Street, Freddy in comics and novels, a condensed A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 Minutes and other stuff I haven't discovered yet. If there is any letdown, it is that stars Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette and Jason Ritter (not in the Friday doc either) were not involved.

And though I know these two films were bound to be related, I did find a little connection that struck me as interesting.  Gay fans of horror films know that A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 and Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood are "the gay ones."  ANOES2 because of actor Mark Patton (who is openly gay) and the film's so-much-more-than-subtext gay vibe; and F13VII because a large chunk of the cast was gay.  In Never Sleep Again, the issue is discussed at length with just the right touch, and with humor.  In Jason, the issue is never brought up.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Huge Weather Penis Threatens Southwest!


Couldn't resist.

Source: Gawker

News of the Weird: Man with Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Dies in Crash

Image from source, AOL News
This could also be found under Science is Cool, were it not for the fact that it is also News of the Sad. I had no idea there was any such thing as mind-controlled prosthetics.  To go through a double amputation, get something as amazing and novel as that, and then to still die at 22-years-old? Harsh, man.  Poor guy.

[Excerpt]

Austrian Man With Bionic Arm Dies After Car Crash


The first European to use a mind-controlled prosthetic arm died in Austria after crashing his car into a tree.



Christian Kandlbauer, 22, died Thursday in Graz, a city in southern Austria, The Associated Press reported.

Kandlbauer had a prosthetic left arm that he moved simply by thinking. He also wore a normal prosthesis as his right arm. They were fitted after he lost both arms in an accident in 2005. . . 

Read more at: AOL News

Las Vegas City Life Endorses Harry Reid

Image from source, Las Vegas City Life
It's difficult to imagine that there are still "undecided" voters in Nevada regarding the Senate race between incumbant Majority Leader Harry Reid, and tea party favorite, Sharron Angle.  As anyone who follows politics knows, the race is one of the most heated in the country.  Reid has been demonized by the right-wing talk shows and FOX "News" for years now, and regardless of his performance, would have been anyway by virtue of his job title.  He's hardly the demon they portray him to be, and his relative unpopularity is not uniform.  Conservatives dislike Reid because they think he's an extremist liberal (Marxist, Maoist, Statist, etc., etc.). Liberals are down on him because they don't think he's progressive enough.

Sharron Angle on the other hand is very clearly an extremist, though she's watered down her position statements since she won the Republican endorsement.  Support for Angle is split, consisting of the 20-25% of the population who thought George W. Bush did a heckuva job (tea baggers, in other words), and people who simply hate Reid, and would vote for any opponent. 

If there truly are any undecideds left out there, they could do themselves a favor by reading Las Vegas City Life's endorsement of Reid. It's an honest look at his accomplishments, as well as his flaws. But it's also a scathing rebuke of Angle, that also has the virtue of being true. 

[Excerpt]

Regardless of the name-calling, it's clear which senator will (continue to) support Nevada in office

There's simply no contest.  In the race for United States Senate pitting Democratic incumbent Harry Reid against Republican former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, the choice is unmistakably clear:  Harry Reid deserves to be re-elected. . .


Sharron Angle has demonstrated she's unfit to serve in the Senate in myriad ways, but none so devastating as this: Her manifest indifference to human suffering. That flaw alone is disqualifying. . .

Read more at: Las Vegas City Life

The O'Donnell Zone

It's at turns amazing, humerous, unbelievable and a bit scary how flat friggin' nuts some of the GOP/Tea Party candidates are this year.  Here in Nevada, we've got Sharron Angle. But Delaware's Christine O'Donnell is by far the batshit crazy star of the tea bagger set.  Fortunately, barring some bizarre hocus pocus (you never know!), O'Donnell doesn't seem like a likely win. Here's hoping Angle ends up a footnote of the crazy 2010 election in the history books, along with O'Donnell.

Overtime with Bill Maher: October 22, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Impeachment of Chief Justice Roberts Possible?

Image from source, Huffington Post
Interesting. . .

[Excerpt]

Rep. Peter DeFazio Investigating Impeachment For Chief Justice John Roberts



With Democrats increasingly outraged over the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision that allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections -- a change conservatives have been more successful at taking advantage of -- a Democratic congressman is raising the prospect of impeaching the Supreme Court's chief justice over the issue. . .
 
Read more at: Huffington Post

That's RepubliCorp!

Halloween Horrors: Rating the Horror Remakes (All New!)

I'm in the middle of rerunning some of my old favorite Halloween movie lists, but fear not, this is a new one!  I've finally over the last year gotten to viewing a slew of the new remakes and reboots of classic horror films.  There have been quite a few, and some are better (or worse) than others. Here's a handy guide for you, to help you out with your holiday video viewing.  (*Star ratings are for within-the-genre only)

Greenlee Gazette Modern Horror Remakes Guide

Image from Wikipedia
Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007) - If there was ever a horror series that needed a change, it was Halloween. Though the original is an all-time classic, and there are a few enjoyable sequels sprinkled in there, but the last three sequels run the gamut from bad to worse.  But Zombie's reboot of the franchise isn't promising. The movie itself is fine, and if it had no legend to live up to might be be rated higher.  It is tied to the previous series--interestingly enough--by having the star of parts 4 and 5 as one of the actors.  But you won't be scared by this one, and anything promising for a new series here is trashed by the immediate Halloween II remake, which is bizarre and confusing, trying too hard to shoehorn in supernatural elements.  You could certainly do worse, but you can do so much better by renting or buying the original.  **  (Sequel: No *)

Friday the 13th (2009) - This reboot had no real legend to live up to.  The Friday the 13th series is an interesting mixture of nostalgia and "so bad, it's good" in the pantheon of horror, and literally couldn't be wrecked.  Also, Jason Voorhees' character and back-story were already muddled, and continuity between editions was so loose, re-starting the story is no big deal.  You might call it more of a ret-con than a reboot. Anyway, this is by far the highest quality, best produced edition of the series.  You've never seen such clarity and crispness in a Friday film, which were usually muddy and dark.  Acting is better than the original series, and the effects are fun.  This is really a remake of Part 2 of the original, which was one of the better original sequels, and it's not bad.  They fleshed out Voorhees' background, adding in a couple of odd elements, neither improving or detracting much from what we know. It has a few surprises, and a couple of jolts. But scary? Not so much.  More fun than later Friday sequels (except for maybe Freddy vs. Jason). Amazingly, this film still doesn't explain why Jason's mother thought he was dead, how he survived, or why he was there to witness his mother's death!  Any future sequel would play like an extension of the first series, rendering the reboot kind of moot.  ***
Image from Wikipedia

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) - This one had me the most worried, going in.  The original Nightmare is an undisputed classic. Sure it was low-budget, had some problematic acting, and is hopelessly mired in the 80s. But it was so original, mixing the dream world with reality, rateable nightmares and a terrifying villain in Freddy Krueger. Later sequels kind of neutered Freddy though, so a reboot, Wes Craven's New Nightmare was made several years ago.  New was not a success, even though it was critically praised, so this remake came to be, recasting and rebooting the entire franchise.  It's a mixed success. There's a new guy playing Freddy, and while he did a fine job, Robert Englund is a tough act to follow.

This isn't like the other horror franchises, with masked killers.  Englund is Freddy. That's the toughest aspect to get around.  I was surprised that they didn't focus on Nancy's house much at all, which was an iconic aspect of most of the original series.  Also, Freddy is made more creepy and disgusting than scary.  He was always a "child killer" but the implications of that were obscured before. Here, he's very definitely a pedophile and killer, which makes you more queasy than terrified.  All in all, a decent remake, but the original is still better. **

The Hills Have Eyes - You couldn't really damage the original in this Wes Craven flick.  Hills falls into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Wrong Turn sub-genre of films, with ordinary people finding themselves in desolate places ruled by murderous, cannibalistic mutants/hillbillies/inbreds.  It's nasty, it's bloody, and you will want to cover your eyes in parts.  If you like it messy and nasty, this belongs on your rental list. The sequel falls right in line, playing like an extension of the first. Not Shakespeare, but what horror is?  *** (Sequel **1/2)

April Fool's Day (2008) - The original is a personal favorite, though not very well known. By the same people as the Friday the 13th series, April Fool's Day was a novel twist, with better acting, humor and an interesting premise of a "murder mystery weekend" going horribly wrong (or did it?).  The "remake" is really in name only. There's some decent gore, and even the acting isn't too bad. But it's a terrible movie. No stars.

Image from Wikipedia
The Last House on the Left (2009) - Another remake of a Wes Craven film, and this one is better than the original.  The old one was gritty and dirty, and disturbing, feeling almost like 70s porn.  This one is more standard-issue modern horror, but more disturbing than your typical slice & dice.  The acting is terrific, with Tony Goldwyn (Ghost) and Garrett Dillahunt almost unrecognizable as the bad guy, Krug (apparently based on the same bully of Craven as Freddy Krueger).  The film--though it does have a few typical "oh, they wouldn't do that" horror movie moments--is quite engaging and suspenseful, and is only marred by an ending that seems kind of out of left field.  It's satisfying, gory and nasty, but not entirely believable. Overall though, the best of this list. ****

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) - Unlike the other remakes in this list, I've never seen the original Tobe Hooper film.  I've caught a handful of the sequels though, and this one is better than any of those.  Some decisions by main characters are completely unbelievable, but that's a critique of most horror films, so it goes with the territory. This one plays like a better-produced installment of the never-ending original franchise.  **

There are others, of course.  George Romero's Dead series of zombie films has the unique distinction of having different folks produce remakes of each of the original three movies, and even sequels to them.  There's Prom Night, Psycho, Children of the Corn. . .but a good rule of thumb is this: get the original.  It's almost always better.

President Obama: "It Gets Better"

Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project really must be making an impact if President Obama's getting involved.  The project--aimed at gay youth (and potentially any teenager who feels "different"), particularly those feeling bullied and hopeless--has been steadily growing over the last few weeks. Kudos to Obama for adding his voice. Now, if you could stop fighting the repeals of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage act, things might really get better.

House GOP Candidate Says Revolution "On The Table"

I've asked it before, but I'll ask it again:  What the hell is wrong with Texas?  And is there anywhere this current crop of GOP looney toons won't go?  Geez.

[Excerpt]

House GOP Candidate Says Revolution "On The Table"



. . .Stephen Broden told WFAA-TV in Dallas that if his side doesn't get what it wants, it's time for violence:


“We have a constitutional remedy. And the framers say if that don’t work, revolution.”

Did Broden - laughably described as a 'pastor' - really mean to imply that the violent overthrow of the United States government was something to be considered?

“The option is on the table. I don’t think that we should remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms. However, it is not the first option. . .”


Read more at: Keith Olbermann's Diary at Daily Kos

Texting While Driving. Why?

Image from source, AOL
Texting while driving has been in the news a lot. There are public service announcements by Mark Salling of Glee urging people not to do it. I've even witnessed a few people doing it.  What I don't understand is why anyone would ever do it.  I remember one time when I wanted to use my phone's GPS system while driving, but I thought better of it, and pulled over.  Texting while driving has never even occurred to me as something I might want to do.

Now, I hear about "text addiction." And that teenagers are sending thousands of texts per month. Again, why?  I myself was late to the game when it comes to cell phones. I'd had one for a few years before I ever texted.  I'm like, "hey, this thing here is a phone, and I can call people with it."  Texting seemed kind of low-tech, what with it's tiny monochrome screen. It seemed like going back to the old computer BBS, only a little less useful. But being married to a flight attendant, I soon found that texting was very useful for those times when talking wouldn't be practical or possible.  These days, I might text a dozen or so times per week.

But how does this become an addiction?  And how could people be so addicted, that they'd text while driving? It's beyond stupid, and beyond my comprehension.  By the way, the first sentence of the excerpted article below is not true.

[Excerpt]

'TXTNG KILLS' Anti-Texting Thumb Bands Get Thumbs Up from Police



We've all been guilty of it at some point, especially the harried business travelers among us, but texting while driving is not only illegal in most places -- it can be fatal. Several campaigns are under way to encourage people to kick the habit, including a few smartphone apps. . .
 
Read more at: AOL

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rachel Maddow Corrects the Record

One thing I love about Rachel Maddow is, that when she makes a mistake, she acknowledges it immediately. And that she does it while snarkily baiting the opposition. Sue me. I like the snark.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Juan Williams Fired from NPR for FOX "News" Comments

Image from source, TV Newser
For years, FOX "News" has been employing NPR commentators as supposed "balance" to their conservative commentators. I've always wondered how this is actual balance. It would seem that merely by being NPR employees that they're automatically liberals. I don't think this is the case, and I think that their performance on FOX "News" bares this out.  Finally, an NPR employee has been fired for his "balanced" statements on the fair and balanced "news" channel. It's about time.

[Excerpt]

NPR Fires Juan Williams for Comments made on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’



NPR has fired news analyst Juan Williams for comments he made on Fox News Channel earlier this week. Williams, who has been a Fox News contributor for 13 years, was on “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday night talking about the comments O’Reilly made last week on “The View” about Muslims and 9/11. On “The Factor”, Williams said, “[W]hen I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. . .”
 
Read more at: TV Newser
 

Halloween Horrors: Guide to Halloween, the Michael Myers Saga

I'm revisiting many of my scary movie lists over the next two weeks, with rundowns of my favorite (and least favorite) horror movies in various genres. One of the trends in horror movies over the years is the horror franchise, and along with that, remakes.  Here's my take on the Halloween movie franchise. Keep in mind, the ratings are genre-specific, and don't necessarily apply to other movies in general.

Image from Wikipedia

Halloween (1978) - John Carpenter struck gold with the original in the series. He created the faceless killing machine (Michael Myers), the "you're dead if you have sex/drink/party/do drugs" horror cliche. And Carpenter's score for the film is amazingly creepy. Easily the best in the series, in fact the best of the genre. And Jamie Lee Curtis was fantastic, as was Donald Pleasence. ****

Halloween II (1981) - Picks up immediately after part one, and holds very close to the tone and the quality. More gore, more violence and more inventive kills are a consequence of the other slasher picks being made at the time, and cause many to dislike this entry. Curtis and Pleasence still are in top form, and Michael Myers seems to meet his end. In fact, unless you're fanwanking, you can't really explain his later resurrection. Also notable for the fantastic soundtrack, an improvement on the original. Great to have on the stereo to creep out the trick-or-treaters. ***

Image from Wikipedia
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) - The creators decided to drop the storyline, and try a different sort of Halloween movie, which was pretty good, but disappointed most fans. It had nothing to do with the previous films, other than the producers, and similar eerie music. Had it been successful, there were supposed to be other unrelated, Halloween-themed movies in the series. The film had one of the coolest logos in the whole series, as seen in the image on the right. **

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) - They went back to the original story (and dropped the roman numerals), which continued the storyline of Michael Myers, and ignored the ending of the second movie, where Michael Myers clearly died. The great thing about Halloween 4 was that the characters reacted like normal people--trying to get the heck out of dodge--and died anyway. Very close to the tone of the first two, and a great performance by Pleasence. ***

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) - OK, but weaker than the previous films. Continues the storyline from part 4, but adds a psychic angle, shifting the tone of the series. **

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Dropped the number, and tried to add new elements that weren't in the previous films (Michael was a Druid?). The series was running out of steam. *

Halloween: H20 (1989) - 20 years into the franchise, this entry tried to reinvigorate the storyline. Donald Pleasence had died, but Jamie Lee Curtis was back, and much of parts 4, 5 and 6 were ignored. They even brought in Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis' real mother, and star of Psycho). H20 was an improvement, but the concept was really running on fumes. **

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) - The less said about part 8, the better. Updates the series for the internet era. Not an improvement. Don't bother. *

Halloween (2007) - This film was ultimately unnecessary, as the original was impossible to top. The attempt to reboot the series, and bring it into the 21st century isn't a total misfire, but is kind of pointless. As far as remakes go, it isn't bad.  Malcolm McDowell does an okay job as Loomis, but nobody can replace Jamie Lee Curtis.  **

Halloween II (2009) - Terrible. That is all. Zero Stars

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